Forget ballet or baseball lessons. Forget nature camps. Forget learning a new language. I firmly believe that children should be taught the following important life skills: how to decorate a cake, how to arrange flowers, and how to country-western dance. Although the first two skills will save our future generation a huge amount of money, learning to dance is probably the most important. Why? Because country-western dancing is so stinking fun! You heard me -- dancing is a blast! My dance lessons began at Garner State Park way back when I was in elementary school. Every summer, my family and a million others (I think that is a literal number - Garner is super popular!), trekked to the Texas Hill Country to spend a week floating the river, hanging out with friends, and twirling across the pavilion at the nightly dance. At the campground, my friends Kim and Rhonda taught me the basics of two-step, polka, and waltz, but the only way to really learn these steps is to DO these steps to music, and we practiced every, single night! Garner still hosts the nightly dance (dating back to the 1940s!) and still uses a jukebox for the music. I’m not sure what songs are played today, but long ago we shuffled to the Eagles, cut a rug with Eddie Rabbit, and swayed to Charlie Rich. And now, when I hear one of those songs, I immediately return to those summer nights on that concrete dance floor, awkwardly two-stepping and singing the words of the songs I heard every year. I continued my country-western dancing through high school every Sunday night at Bill Mraz Dance Hall and through college every Thursday night at The Hall of Fame. And Scott and I continue dancing today. Just a few weeks ago, we joined Kim, John, Rhonda, and Donald (yep -- the same Kim and Rhonda who taught me to dance all those years ago) and danced the night away at a local hall.
So for today’s communication lesson, I want to go back to Garner, back to those summer nights, back to that jukebox, back to those songs of my childhood (because you KNOW that I can find a way for those songs and lyrics to teach communication strategies!). And I think that the Eagles say it best!
“I Can’t Tell You Why” - How many times do we make communication “harder than it has to be”? Although “I can’t tell you why” we stress or fret about sharing information, I can tell you that sticking to the basics is the best communication strategy. Unlike the song, take out the emotion and just present the core message. If necessary, first write out your message including the emotional stuff. Walk away for a bit and then come back to edit out the emotions because you don’t want your message to get lost “in the dark.”
“Take It Easy” - So many times I need to “loosen my load” when it comes to communication. Do you also need to “lighten up while you still can”? In other words, do you (and do I) need to work for more concise communication? So many times I want to give details and steps and hints and … guess what? My message gets lost. Take out the emotions and take out the unneeded details. Again, just present the core message. Then offer the opportunity for more information or offer other resources for those who may need to get more details.
So many songs … so many communication lessons … so little time!! I could go on and on with this blog (there are lots of Eagles’ songs), but I’m going to follow my own advice and “take it easy”!! etc Strategies believes that the best way to communicate is to take out the emotions and unneeded details and focus on your core message. And I believe that learning to country-western dance (and how to decorate a cake and arrange flowers) will give you a “peaceful, easy feeling”!