With the prevalent thought in today’s society that fast is good, but moving even faster is always better, I believe we are losing our ability to understand and use many of our great communication and relationship skills and tools i.e. personal style, good manners and the use of our language. An example of the latter would be that we are creating a new language using only letters like “OMG” that were put in place for expediting our texting capabilities, but are now also used as spoken language. No wonder the human race is having trouble knowing how to connect to our own humanness. We seem to have lost our facility for being able to connect to one another, to create real relationships with others and with ourselves as well. We have just about totally eradicated our own personal style, manners and language in favor of a wholly visual world. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t count. Somehow we have erroneously confused email, phone calls, blogging, twittering, texting, etc with having relationships. And in the process we seem to have become isolated, addicted and at the same time restrained by the very tool that was supposed to give us a better way to stay connected and free up our personal time. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe the internet and all the other electronic toys are beautiful things, and life without it would certainly be very different. However, that said, just how much time do you spend every day staying plugged into something never giving yourself time for more face to face real time connection with others where you get to not only hear the spoken word, but get to read body language and the subtle nuances given with what the eyes say and human touch? Or how much time do you spend getting to know your very own unique self? Does your style get cramped by the deficit of good manners and infertile use of the English language?
Ads suggest that who we are on the inside doesn’t much matter anymore; it is more about how we look on the outside that counts. If you wear the right clothing (no matter if it is a flattering style for you), watch your weight, exercise, have all the right “stuff” and listen to the right music, you will win friends and influence people. Even the opera world has put an emphasis on hiring those that will look good over those who have the amazing instrument that has been well trained and can deliver the story, character, drama and personal understanding of how the music makes them feel, through the sound of their voice. They seem to have forgotten that singers in addition to their voices rely on the use of their acting abilities which further connect them to their audience. And in addition to that there is make-up and costumes which further enhance the embodiment of the character and can alter appearance. In short, we seem to be ix-naying the old mind-body-heart connection that used to make the world go round and connect us to one another.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
There are three interesting and valuable tools I would like to discuss in this blog. They are: personal style, universal good manners, and the ability to feel comfortable with and getting the most out of communication through the language we use. These tools and skills give each of us the ability to create and maintain honest to goodness real relationships with others and also with ourselves.
Let’s start with personal style. When you hear those words, what does it bring to mind for most of you? Is it how you dress, how much bling you display, what type of wireless device you use or how you wear your hair? Sure, that is part of it. But it’s also about what kind of language you use when speaking to others, the language you use when having those internal conversation with yourself or with your “Brat”, your belief systems, how you treat your environment, meaning both public and personal space, your work ethics, your moral overview, and more!
Did you know that everyone you know has certain style expectations of you? And that will vary wildly depending on what group of friends, colleagues and family you are dealing with in that moment. You have set it up that way. Ever notice that when you are with a particular person you might behave in a very predictable way because it is expected of you even though you are sick to death of it yourself. Maybe it’s time to re-think what style is really honest and best for you and try for consistency across the entire board of relationships. That probably means letting go of some of your current ideas, beliefs, things and stuff which is not an easy task, but one well worth going for. Life gets a lot more uncomplicated and better defined once you work through this process and you come to understand that you are enough and don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You stop playing “the game” within your many differing relationships. This puts the ball in their court so others either make the necessary changes because they want to stay in your life, or they leave. And that is OK.
“You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind.”
~ Irish Proverb
Ever encounter an unexpected, awkward, uncomfortable situation in public or private and wish you had some skills to approach it with a constructive, win-win tactic? Here is one method you might want to try in helping you solve everyday problems while elegantly revealing your unique and honest style. Use it whenever you encounter a situation where you find yourself saying, “Wow!” or “Oh #&$*%!; like having to deal with an unexpected huge credit card bill, needing feedback from an audition you felt went well but didn’t get the job, getting into an argument with someone, getting your buttons pushed with particular friends or family or in this current economy, losing your job.
Think 4-C’s = Calm – Cool – Collected – Connected
- Calm – Stop & Take a Breath – When I say that, I mean literally stop thinking and focus only on the air coming into and out of your body. Then push your “Full Alert & Awareness” button and notice the reality of what’s going on in this @#$^&% “wow” moment without automatically reacting from an emotional perspective. Mentally know you are enough and you can handle it.
- Cool – Now you get to react emotionally, but only on the inside and just for a second. Feel it, wallow around in it, but don’t hang around.
- Collected – Mentally watch yourself take one physical step back out of that emotion you just recognized and experienced and choose to leave it “over there”. Now ask yourself, what do you want to do about this situation? What would be the best outcome for everyone concerned? The choice is yours.
- Connected – Kick into gear by taking action. Ask the question, “What would the best me do to get that desired outcome?” and then do it.
Example: You have invited someone of influence in helping to build your career out to lunch. Everything is going very well and as things wind down you are presented with the check. You confidently give your credit card to the waiter. He comes back and asks if you have a different card because this one isn’t being accepted. You tell him you will meet him up at the front in just a few minutes to straighten this out giving him your card and check once again. Excuse yourself and go handle the situation. Embarrassing moment! What do you do to come out smelling like roses both to the influential person you have invited out to lunch and to yourself?
Calm – Focus on those couple of important breaths. Look at the facts. You know this card you are using for this occasion has a $10,000 limit on it and because you use it only for business and pay it completely off each month, there must be some mistake on their end.
Cool – Let yourself think the worst and freak out, but only for second and move on to step #3.
Collected – In your imagination, take one step back away from the emotion you are feeling and leave it over there. Now think about the real facts and what solutions might be available.
Connected – Your solution is to call the service number on your credit card and see what is going on. They tell you their computers are all down and won’t be up and running again for several hours. They are sorry for the inconvenience. With relief and a great feeling about how you handled the situation and yourself, you tell the management what happened and suggest your solution. You will go an ATM after your guest has left, while leaving your credit card in their care, to pay off the bill. You tell your influential person the situation and that it is happily resolved as you both leave the restaurant. You get the money just around the corner, complete the transaction and retrieve your credit card after payment.
This becomes a perfect example of how to influence and impress others and because you were able to carry out this problem solving plan, how it strengthens your confidence in knowing you can solve problems in a non-emotional and professional way.
GOOD UNIVERSAL MANNERS
“There is hardly any personal defect which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to.”
~ Jane Austen
What are universal good manners and why is that important? In it simplest form, it is looking someone in the eye and saying “Thank You” so they understand that you see and acknowledge them. As a woman, allowing a man to open the door for you, pull out a chair so you can be seated, allowing you to enter first, doesn’t make you less independent or seem weak. It is a show of respect and makes one feel more like a sensual, full blown woman in every sense. It doesn’t make a man into some weak pansy. It is part of our humanness that will help us feel alive and participating in our lives. It is part of the communication dance that has been cut out of our lives and discarded as something no longer useful and meaningful. Think of how you would feel, whether you are a man or woman, putting this small but significant humanness into action. Both men and woman would feel valued and respected. It’s simply a human way to show another courtesy. If a man offers this gracious gesture to a woman, accept it by saying thank you, and notice how you feel as a woman getting this kind of attention. If you are a man offering this type of gesture and a woman stops to say thank you, notice how it makes you feel.
Not everyone lives in a big city where there are subways or busses and lots of bustling people, but that doesn’t give you a pass in showing your manners. It could be something small that needs your attention. It could be some small kindness or favor for a relative, for someone at the grocery store or where you work. It could be that you simply complement someone about a genuine feeling you have about something they do well, or how well a particular color looks on them, etc. These small, but lovely humanness gestures make us feel alive, well and connected. They help us demonstrate and understand how very delicious it is to feel human. And whatever you do, do not confuse kindness with weakness because they are not nor will they ever be made of the same stuff. It takes a confident, compassionate and strong person to be genuinely thoughtful, demonstrate manners and show kindness. Let that person be you.
PROPER USE OF OUR BEAUTIFUL ENGLISH LANGUAGE
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
~ Rudyard Kipling
How many of you have ever read a book or a particular poem, watched a movie or TV show, or overheard a really superior and titillating conversation that used the English language in a beautiful way that piqued your curiosity about being able to do the same? Or do you care at all about being able to express yourself in an eloquent and captivating way? I personally love words and love being able to use them to express exactly how I feel about something or how I view or hear something that excites and interests me. I appreciate the changes that are occurring with the infiltration of slang from our new cultural icons, but being able to choose what style I want to use to express myself helps me be more of who I am all the time. This also includes correct grammar. Know when to use I or me and who and whom. It shows that you care enough about yourself by being able to articulate in a proper way, just what you want others to understand.
I have a challenge for you. Try putting one of these words per day into your conversation whether it is emailing, texting, phoning, or face to face with another human being. Notice how using this word makes you feel and what kind of response you get from others. Might this be something that interests you enough to continue throughout your life? You might even inspire others to want to do the same.
Plethora – Noun – An overabundance or excess of something. The plethora of geese in our parks is causing sanitary problems. My friends and family have given me a plethora of advice I really don’t want or need.
Nonce – Noun – the one, particular, or present occasion, purpose, or use. For the nonce I will allow you to eat sweets. Adjective – for the time being. I am done for the nonce.
Tandem – Adverb – Used more vaguely to refer to any group of persons or objects working together, not necessarily in line, for example, in politics and business to describe joint plans and ventures. Tom and I worked in tandem to get our project done on time.
Reticent – Adjective – The inclination to be silent or uncommunicative in speech. Also reserved, restrained in expression, presentation, or appearance. The room has an aspect of reticent dignity. I am reticent to share my thoughts about that particular painting.
So, place the bar high and strive for the whole enchilada! And help those around you to do the same by becoming the ultimate example of your unique, authentic and effervescent self.
You are your Brand. Avanti!
Ciao until next time,
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is. ”
~ Mary Anne Hershey