Passport - check! Packed suitcase - check! Planned list of things to do - half a check! Huh!? For those of you following my blogs or for all of you who know me personally, you can tell that I like organized, detailed, list-generating plans. So for months, I planned our recent trip to London. I searched every “best things to do in London and UK” site, took meticulous notes, arranged and rearranged our schedule, compared prices, and even requested friends’ suggestions using Facebook. Armed with my very detailed itinerary (including attractions’ times and days, prices, directions - using the Tube of course, suggested length of visit, and even reviews and ratings), Scott and I started our trip. But in a very “non-Julie” way, I only planned the ten-day trip through day seven -- I left the last 3 days completely open -- you heard me -- NO planned activities! And to be honest, it made my stomach hurt a bit. From Windsor Castle to Stratford-Upon-Avon to the Warwick Castle to the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey to the Thames River cruise and much more -- we walked and toured and took in ALL of my planned sights. I nerded out at all of the literary and royal connections while Scott nerded out at all the castles and engineering and architectural feats. At the end of day seven (with hurting backs, tired feet, and even a little sunburn - the weather was fantastic all week), I started to panic a bit. What are we going to do tomorrow? Over dinner that night (at a pub of course), Scott and I contemplated our choices and decided to take it one day at a time. Again - my stomach hurt. How can we just plan “one day at a time”? We need to research and look at reviews and figure out directions and prices … wait a minute! Why not be a bit flexible? If you only knew how hard that was for me. But I was willing to try, and we then went on to have wonderful adventures for the last three days of our trip! We took a train to Canterbury and walked the steps of Chaucer’s Knight and Lady of Bath, and all the other characters of the Canterbury Tales. We spent hours at the British Museum and marveled at the medieval swords and mummies and Roman statues. We rented bicycles, got totally lost in the streets of London, and discovered the canals and parks and beautiful churches off the beaten path. We even finally participated in a traditional afternoon tea. Our “unplanned” activities were as much fun as our “planned” activities, and I have to be honest - by day nine, I even looked forward to our brainstorming dinners about what to do the next day. This flexibility allowed us to see new possibilities and to revisit attractions that didn’t make my list. So how does this connect with good communication skills? As stated in my previous blogs, I believe that planning your communication is super important and creates a more successful communication experience. Many times you have specific points or detailed directions to share, but you may need to be flexible in the process. Successful communication only happens when you engage and connect with the receiver, so you may need to change your behaviors (what you can control). Maybe you need to schedule a different time to communicate - work for a time when your receiver can give you the needed attention. Maybe you need to sit down for the communication experience - trying to share information walking or standing is less engaging that sitting and looking face-to-face. Maybe you need to work for more meaningful language or comparisons - if you find that you are not making your points clearly, think about your audience and work for ways to better relate to their needs and experiences. Finally, maybe you just need to lower your voice - changing your volume can create a sense of calm that will encourage engagement. etc Strategies believes that flexibility can help your communication experiences be more successful and productive. Still research and plan and list, but also be willing to change and be open to new ideas. Fantastic trip to London - check, check, check!!
On a very sad note, the horrible incident at the London Bridge happened during our visit. Our hearts go out to all of those involved and a big thanks goes to our friends and family who checked on us.