Apology time again -- I am so sorry Diane, Michelle, and Karen for all the times we played school growing up and I ALWAYS had to be the teacher. Let’s face it - I was (and probably still am) pretty bossy, and after all, I did have my mom’s old schoolwork from her classroom. But looking back, I now realize I wasn’t being fair at all! Okay -- even back then I knew I wasn’t being fair, but Diane, Michelle, and Karen knew that I was going to be the teacher every single time, and guess what? They still played with me. And we spent hours “learning” stuff at our imaginary school before we moved on to Barbies or going outside to play. Do you remember your childhood group of friends? Luckily I grew up on Cheshire Lane with house next to house next to house filled with kids, all ages, boys and girls, with parents who made us play outside as long as the sun shined. We played kickball in the street and got so mad when cars came and we had to stop the game. We rode our bikes to the park and played tennis. We swam at Michelle’s house and jumped on the trampoline at Karen’s house. And all in all, we played nicely. We certainly had our squabbles (Rob made Diane cry at least once a week), and we didn’t always agree what to play or how to play it (except playing school - remember I was ALWAYS the teacher). But we figured it out and quickly got back to the game or Barbies or playing school. Wouldn’t it be great if we as adults could “play nicely” with each other, especially when it comes to communication?
In honor of those fun-filled days of playing with my childhood friends, I thought I would use the word PLAY to share some ways to “play nicely” when communicating with others
Prepare - Before we kicked the ball, before we organized the Barbie stuff, before we swam or jumped, we prepared. We picked teams, gathered our Barbie cases (and my cool Barbie airplane), grabbed towels and pool toys, or made sure we had the right shoes for the trampoline. To prepare for communicating with others, make sure you schedule the best time to meet, gather all of your needed materials and notes, organize your points, and plan multiple ways to meet your objectives. Even if your communication experience is informal and unstructured, prepare by remembering connections you can make during the conversation.
Lessen - As kids, we never planned to play kickball, Barbies, and jump on the trampoline all in one evening! I’m pretty sure our newly-forming time management skills did not teach us that we didn’t have enough time in an evening to participate in every activity. We just knew. But how many times do we try to squeeze way too many objectives into a communication experience? Work to lessen your load and more fully focus on fewer but more developed ideas.
Applaud - Although as kids we literally applauded (and yelled) when a team member made a great catch or kicked the ball a long way, we can figuratively applaud during communication experiences. Show your admiration for a well-made point or innovative idea. Give credit to others’ for their contributions. Highlight a job well-done. Everyone enjoys a little applause!
Yield - Although I ALWAYS had to be the teacher when we played school, there were other times that I didn’t have to do things my way (I only hope my friends can remember those times!). We all need to yield at times when communicating. I tend to talk way too much, so I work to stop talking and let others jump in. And if no one starts talking, ask open-ended questions to get everyone involved.
I’m thankful that I grew up with a wonderful group of friends who knew how to play nicely. etc Strategies believes that learning to “play nicely” when communicating can help you connect to others and develop stronger relationships. And a big thanks to Diane, Michelle, and Karen -- all those times they “let” me be the teacher only made me a better teacher later in life!