In all of my life’s twists and turns, there are a few constants - I really like Mexican food, I really like the color pink, I really like to talk (imagine that!?!), and I really like Jazzercise! Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?? I know when you think Jazzercise, you think leg warmers, leotards, and dancing, and trust me, back in the 80s when I started, I totally wore leg warmers and leotards (matching of course -- see my previous blog about that emotional baggage!), and danced, danced, danced. It all started in high school after my friend Kim Tipton introduced me to Jazzercise. As a member of a high school dance drill team (shout-out to Scarborough High School Sundowners!), Jazzercise helped me to stay in shape and keep up my endurance for the half-time routines and competitions. Throughout the years, I continued to Jazzercise. While Scott was on his Navy ship out to sea, I found great Jazzercise classes in Virginia. When we moved to the Seabrook area, a local dance studio offered Jazzercise classes. And now that I’m back in Houston, I am so lucky to be located near the Humble Jazzercise location. I wasn’t always able to take Jazzercise, and I tried all kinds of other exercise classes. I liked kick-boxing (thanks Joan Gittleman), but I missed grapevining, chasséing (I had to look up how to spell that one), and step-ball-changes! I liked yoga, but I really needed a better dance beat for counting, and it was super hard for me to be quiet. I liked the Crossfit Boot Camp (I am the planking queen), but I missed the songs you can sing to (the much younger group liked rap better). Jazzercise truly offers me all that I need - fun dance steps, great music, and even though I don’t wear leotards anymore, I can still wear cute exercise clothes! And it is super fun - you think that you are just dancing, but you are totally working out and staying fit! So is this a commercial to take Jazzercise? (It’s not, but you should totally try it!) Or is there a communication lesson in this blog? I’m pretty sure you already know the answer but ...
First, Jazzercise certainly has changed and evolved over the years, but the basic components are the same: great music, fun dance steps, ever-changing routines, enthusiastic instructors, and no pressure (there are no mirrors to see just how great you are!). Communication is like that too. With our advancing technology and information overload, we still need to stick to the basic components: engagement, clear purpose, appropriate medium, relatable and clear content, and feedback. Just like Jazzercise works to find the best music and the best dance steps to maximize the benefits, you can work to find the best time, place, medium, and words for your communication message. Will an email adequately share your request? Should you try to find a visual representation of your idea to help others understand? Is after lunch the best time for that meeting? Take the time to think through your choices to put together the best communication experience.
Next, Jazzercise offers 2 exercise options - the high intensity workout or a low impact option. During a class, the instructor models both options, and you as the participant can choose what works best for you. For more effective communication, you can offer 2 options as well After discussing an issue face-to-face, send a follow-up email to summarize the meeting or offer the next opportunity to continue the discussion. When sending an email, offer the option of sending more information or resources in a handout or by linking to a website. If you leave a phone message, send an email a few days later as a follow-up. Work to find 2 ways to share the information or to connect.
Finally, Jazzercise works to make all who participate feel like an important part of the group. When I started my first class in Humble, the instructor welcomed me by name and gave me a Jazzercise water bottle. Participants are continually recognized for class attendance and for meeting challenges. For any communication experience, you should first make sure that all participants feel important. Work to greet by name, offer a warm handshake, and make a personal connection. Ask open-ended questions like “What did you do on vacation?” or “What are some of the things you are working on right now?” to offer the opportunity for more detailed answers. And always work to appreciate and acknowledge others’ accomplishments.
etc Strategies believes that focusing on the basic components of communication, working to offer options when communicating, and creating a warm and inviting atmosphere will create more effective and successful communication experiences. Just look at Jazzercise - 45 years old and still a “pulse-pounding, beat-pumping, body-blasting fitness program that gets you results”-- even without the leg warmers!
A BIG thanks to Humble Jazzercise! I love dancing with you and love that I can use you in a blog!