I can not believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is right around the corner! I have SO MUCH to do! In order to help me (and in turn you) get through the season, from now until Christmas, I am focusing my blogs on concrete communication and organization strategies to help us all personally and professionally. I will try to keep the blogs short and to the point (but that is super hard for me to do as I love sharing my life!). I like to think of these strategies as my Christmas gifts to you (and sharing my ideas is easy and cheap!). I hope you enjoy and can use these ideas.
Checking Your List
“Oh you better watch out” because Santa is “checking his list”! I know that this is probably my 25th blog about making lists, but I honestly believe that the easiest and best way to organize and communicate is by making a list, especially this time of year. From shopping to end-of-the-year work tasks to gifts to cards … I really don’t know how someone can keep up without making lists. I personally use the old-fashion pencil/paper route and make my lists on a notepad, but I did some research and found 2 list-making apps that you might want to check out. First, my favorite friend Google has an app called Google Keep. As part of your Google account, you can use the task manager to create, edit, organize, and find notes; share notes with others; set reminders; check off items; and collaborate with others. Imagine making a grocery list that you can check off purchased items and then send the rest to Scott to pick up on the way home (but remember to send it to your significant other, not Scott!). A second option is Remember the Milk app. Not only do I like it’s name and the cow logo, but the app is super easy to use and offers similar features like the Google Keep. The only downside is that the app offers a pro version that must be purchased, so some of the features are not available with the free one.
Make your list and check it twice! etc Strategies believes that list-making (and of course list-following) can help you be more organized and efficient. By sharing lists, you can also better communicate with your family and coworkers as you all work to get things done. Now I’m off to make my lists and find your next communication gift ...
Enjoy eating good food, spending time with your family, and making wonderful memories! And after Thanksgiving, share those memories by telling stories to engage and connect with others (see -- I’m always sharing communication strategies!).
Although the 80 degree weather here in Houston does NOT make it feel like Thanksgiving, we are only 9 days away from the big day. I think that Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday -- great food, time with family, and really no pressure for the perfect present or any major needed decorations. And, my favorite meal is turkey and dressing. In my family, you picked your birthday meal, and every year I picked turkey and dressing as my first choice. Most years I did not get my first choice -- you see my birthday is in October, and my mom refused to make turkey and dressing in October, November, and December. But on Thanksgiving, my mom always goes way overboard with the food. And for that I am thankful! But today’s blog is about some of the things I am thankful for when it comes to communication (I always need to remind myself the real purpose of this blog!). These things truly shaped my philosophies about communication and helped to develop the strategies that I use and share with others.
I’m thankful for …
My mom’s ability to talk to anyone! For years, I turned red with embarrassment as my mom talked to EVERYONE. From the cashier to the sacker, from the receptionist to the doctor, from the neighbor to the stranger, my mom always finds a way to connect to people by just chatting with them. Most conversations are short and sweet, but for that moment, each person feels like my mom truly cares about him or her. And guess what? Now I totally talk to everyone and encourage others to do the same. Effective communication involves engagement, so work to connect to all you meet just by talking!
The stories told by Mrs. Susan Hoefer (my eighth grade English teacher and my student teacher mentor)! Mrs. Hoefer loved to tell stories - about her kids, her own school experiences, even about her trip to the grocery store. As an eighth grader, I didn’t always see the connections between her stories and the skills we were studying in class. When she started a story, as students, we just relaxed a bit and listened for the enjoyment of the story. I was then lucky enough to return to Mrs. Hoefer’s class as a student teacher, and during that wonderful experience, I realized how strongly the stories illustrated a point or showed an example of the literary term or skill. Mrs. Hoefer’s stories were purposeful and effective, even when her students didn’t realize it. Stories are the very best way to teach others and such an easy way to more strongly connect. And as you can see from my blogs, I now tell stories just like Mrs. Hoefer.
Google! Yep! I am so very thankful for Google and its ability to search for things like what to do on vacation to which washing machine is the best. But I am super thankful that Google allows me to search how to write or say stuff. As a former English teacher, I feel like I need to say things in the “correct” way while also making my blogs conversational. So if in doubt, I search Google. My searches include things like, “How do you use affect in a sentence?” Or you know how sometimes a word can just look wrong to you like it is misspelled? I can totally Google the word to double check the spelling. And it only takes a few seconds to search. Making sure that you are correctly writing or saying things shows that you care about communicating in the most effective way, and Google makes it so easy to check!
etc Strategies believes that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to take a moment to think about all that you are thankful for and work for a way to communicate your gratitude. Send a note or make a call to share how you feel. And enjoy your turkey and dressing -- I can’t wait!
Remember my blog about how Rebel joined our family? To recap: Scott wanted a new dog; I didn’t; I made it almost impossible for Scott to get a dog; Scott met all my requirements; we got Rebel. (Go back and read “Meet Rebel” on 7/18 for the whole story.) At the end of the blog, I commented that Scott now wants another dog … and Maggie really needs a sibling after losing Rebel a few years ago … so we got Clint! Clint’s journey to joining our family is the stuff of a future blog, but today I want to introduce you to this sweet boy and see the communication lessons we can learn from him. Clint, a rescue from the Houston SPCA, is a terrier mix, about 4 months old, 16 pounds, and super cute! Maggie is tolerating Clint (a big win for us!) but not quite ready for puppy play. We hope that one day Maggie and Clint will be as close as Maggie and Rebel. Fingers crossed! Of course, I’ll keep you posted, but for now, let’s see what communication lessons Clint can teach us! And to promote saving rescue dogs and the Houston SPCA, I’ll use the acronym to share my ideas!
S - Share your exuberance!
Clint LOVES the world … I mean he is so excited to see and smell EVERYTHING! Leaves, sticks, the carpet are all exciting and so very interesting. He is equally fascinated with the chair legs and my toes. I love watching him explore the world. When is the last time you approached a communication experience with that same puppy exuberance? When did you work to be positive and open and ready to see what can be accomplished in that meeting? When did you look forward to working with others to meet a goal or make a plan? Just like Clint, try to see things in an exciting and positive way. And go one step further - take a moment to share your exuberance. Email your co-worker to share that you are looking forward to working with him or her. At the beginning of that meeting, share your excitement about working to solve the problem or make the plan.
P - Put yourself out there!
At times, Clint is a bit timid and worried about trying new things. We recently took Clint on a camping trip in our motorhome, and for a bit, I could put Clint on the couch and he would NOT jump down. I had a moment or two to quickly finish my make-up or clean the dishes as Clint was too afraid to jump down off of the couch. But eventually Clint built up some courage and leaning way far off over the edge of the couch, he slowly slid down the side onto the floor. It took him a day or two, but he finally put himself out there and got off the couch. Great for him, but not so great for me. When is the last time you put yourself out there when it comes to communication? Perhaps it’s time to ask a coworker to lunch to build a stronger personal relationship. Maybe you can work to speak to every person you meet in a day. Or go to the next after work activity. Work to more strongly connect to others to increase effective communication.
C - Carry your load!
So I’m reaching a bit for this one - Clint loves to carry his own leash and walk himself. He has also picked up Maggie’s leash to help us out. Do you carry your own communication load? One of the best ways to keep up with communication is to respond to emails and texts. Work to create time in each day to address and organize messages. Find the best organizational strategy to make sure that you don’t allow messages to get lost in the shuffle. And if you get behind, make it a priority to catch up!
A - Acknowledge your good work!
We are working on sit, stay, and come with Clint, and our “good boy” and face rubbing seem to be working. Clint truly loves being a “good boy”! When is the last time you gave yourself a “good boy” or “good girl” after a good communication experience? Maybe you wrote a killer email or wowed your co-workers at the morning meeting. Give yourself a high five and take a moment to reflect on what worked well. Then work to repeat the strategies in the future.
etc Strategies believes that approaching communication experiences with exuberance, putting yourself out there to strengthen relationships, carrying your communication load by taking responsibility for your part, and patting yourself on the back for using effective communication strategies will help you in all professional and personal communication experiences. But here is Clint’s most important lesson -- if you want to expand your family and get a pet, go the rescue route and consider the Houston SPCA. (See the link below for more information.) I’m sure that there will be more Clint (and Maggie) stories and lessons. But for now, I’m going to be a “good girl” and end this blog!