Christmas 2016 has come and gone…and Santa and our family and friends were unbelievably generous this year! So now here is a rundown of some of our favorite gifts: fuzzy dog beds, slipper-socks, monogrammed sweatshirt, lottery tickets, coloring calendar, pjs (always a favorite), red and green dog bone with rope, wine topper, and a Deadpool lunchbox. My aunt loved her People magazine subscription; my mom loved her monogrammed purse; my nieces loved their new perfume. The guys appreciated the new flashlights, power washer, and of course, favorite football team attire. Gifts are great! And there is something really special about giving and receiving gifts. When you find the perfect gift for that someone special, the gift you know will be one of the “favorites” of the year, you feel good. When you open that perfect gift someone carefully chose for you, you feel good. Don’t let Christmas be the only time you give “favorite” gifts. Communication gifts can be given all through the year. When you give the gift of your attention and you work to really listen and connect with someone else, when you work to communicate in a positive way, when you use strategies to communicate more effectively, everyone feels good. etc Strategies believes that good communication strategies can be the best gift you can give or get. And good communication gifts make everyone feel good!
These are my granddogs - Ollie is the tan one and Ripley is the black and white one. They are both rescues, and we just welcomed Ripley into the family about 6 weeks ago. Right now both of my granddogs are visiting me for the holidays, but there is a bit of an issue. Ripley is still working on potty training … and she is having some problems … on my NEW carpet. I’m not super happy about the situation, but we have found that timing is everything. I take her out at 2:00 am. She is sleepy and not too happy to go outside (especially in the cold), but she tinkles and we cheer and we run back into the house. Then she goes out at 6:00 am ... then 10:00 am… then … you get the picture. We are picking the best time for Ripley to go potty. And it seems to be working!! Timing can be just as important in successful communication. Some research suggests that the most productive people work for 52 minutes and then break for 17 minutes. The 52 minutes fits the mental and physical requirements we need for attention and focus. More work can get done; more progress made. But during the 17 minutes of break, productive people don’t think about the work and need to take a mental and physical time-out. Certainly this break time should include taking care of your body -- maybe a quick walk, a bite to eat, something to drink. But during these 17 minutes, you can also work on communicating with your co-workers. Research also shows that employees who connect personally with co-workers are happier on and off the job. etc Strategies believes that we all need to take that break time to visit -- share stories, ask questions, and laugh! The connections you develop and strengthen can make you just as happy as Ripley!!
Enjoy the time with your family and friends this holiday season!!
Julie and Karen
Have you seen that State Farm commercial with the two very different “days”? One girl discovers a new car in the driveway while a businessman finds his car on blocks with missing tires. Both the girl and the businessman exclaim, “What a day!” That same sentence expresses completely different perspectives on the “day” shown through the images and the inflections used by the characters. But how can we share meaning and tone in emails and text messages? How can we make sure that recipients understand exactly what we are trying to express? For my friends and colleagues, it’s easy to decipher the tone of my texts and emails. If there is no exclamation point, I am ANGRY!! I once sent an email to ask for clarification about a pay issue. I started with a very angry, “Thank you so much for your investigation of this issue.” Notice there is no exclamation point, a sure sign that this sentence is very aggressive. What? You can’t see that tone? Well the supervisor didn’t understand the significance of the missing exclamation point either and sent a very cordial reply thanking me for my understanding. My tone and real concern was NOT communicated in the email. Next time I will use words to express my feelings like “frustrated” and “troubled” and make sure I provide detailed descriptions of events or actions to support my concerns. Remember to always be professional, but find ways to make your tone and message clear and understandable. etc Strategies believes that good communicators make deliberate word choices and include adequate details to make sure texts and emails express the desired tone. And an exclamation point now and then can always help!!
My dad is 84 years old and not in the best health. My mom is his caregiver and does a fabulous job of helping him live a good life in spite of his health issues. But last week there was a mini-crisis. My dad has false teeth that he cleans each night in a bowl with a Polident tablet. As he watched a tv show, my mom handed my dad the small plastic bowl with water and the Polident tablet to drop in after he placed his false teeth in the bowl. She then walked away to prepare things for bedtime. After about 10 minutes, Mom returned and gave my dad his nighttime medication to take. Dad exclaimed, “I already took my pill. And it sure took me a while to chew it up.” Much to my mom’s dismay, my dad ate the Polident tablet! Mom immediately checked the package and made a call to poison control as suggested. Jim (a really nice guy according to Mom) at Poison Control assured my mom that my dad would be just fine with a small possibility of an upset stomach. Although a medicine mix-up is a serious issue and can cause negative consequences, this particular instance is now just another funny story that helps my family laugh through my dad’s struggles. But my mother has also learned two very important communication strategies. First, my mom now makes sure my dad is paying attention when she gives him instructions. She stands in front of him and makes eye contact as she shares the information. Second, she makes sure to repeat her verbal instructions and have my dad repeat the instructions to check for understanding. etc Strategies believes that using these very important strategies (making sure your audience is paying attention, repeating the information, and checking for understanding) can help create a more positive and productive communication experience. Imagine ALL of the mix-ups that can be avoided using good communication!