This morning I could not find the lid to my blender. I couldn’t very well make smoothies without the lid, because the liquid would splatter all over the place.
My daughter has the job of putting away dishes after they have been washed. I figured that she must have put the lid someplace, and went to ask her where it was.
“On the shelf where it always goes,” she replied. I went back to the kitchen and looked again. I sure didn't see a lid.
So I went back to my daughter’s room. “Will you please come and think just like you do, and show me how to find the blender lid?”
She’s used to how I word things, and understood. What I meant was this: I have looked twice for the lid, in the place you told me it should be, and I don’t see it. So what I need is for someone who thinks like YOU think, to show me how to find it.
Sure enough, she came, and the lid was right on the shelf where she said it would be - but it was resting on its side, and partially covered by another object. I simply hadn’t seen it.
Why would I take 7 paragraphs to describe this silly event in our home?
We find that often our communication problems follow this pattern. One person is concerned about something, and asks another for their suggestions, ideas, or input. But often, even if that person tries to use that input, he still won’t be able to see clearly. He will still be shaking his head, trying to figure out why he can’t just “get it.”
You'll notice that I didn't actually tell my daughter to come find the lid. I asked her to think like she does, and to show me how to see the lid. That's actually a very important distinction to make. Subtly, we are saying that we want to understand the other person, not that we want them to simply solve the problem for us. So we are using words in a way that invites them to understand that we value the relationship, and their part in it.
We have to ask the other person to show us how to think like they think!
I don’t think like my daughter. I would have put the lid of the blender flat on the shelf. So when I was looking for it, I was looking for the “flat” lid. My daughter, however, was not locked into that expectation, and saw it immediately.
Think of it this way:
To discover what the other person thinks.
To see what they see.
To find out why they see that way.
We can use this principle when:
Giving from the heart means that we give freely - without worry that we won’t have our own needs fulfilled.
Inspiring stories give us examples of this. One of my personal favorites is the story behind the North Platte volunteers during WWII. The women near North Platte (from over 150 towns) organized a “canteen” to serve soldiers traveling through on their way to war. Over the course of the war, they fed over 6 million soldiers. This was all done free of charge. The women made the food out of their own home supplies, and brought it to the canteen to serve.
Here’s the inspiring article. Take a minute just to relax, read, and remind yourself of the power of giving from the heart.
Let’s face it -- sarcasm is not helpful in communication. We may think it is funny - but sarcasm tends to hurt people’s feelings.
Sarcasm is really criticism. Here’s what President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said about this in 1994.
There is too much fruitless, carping criticism of America. I know that for some the times are dark. There have been dark days in every nation.
I would like to repeat the words of Winston Churchill spoken when bombs were dropping on London. The German juggernaut had overrun Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, and Russia. All of Europe was in the dread grasp of tyranny, and England was to be next. In that dangerous and desperate time, when the hearts of many were failing, this great Englishman said, and I quote—and I remember hearing these words on the radio at the time: Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race. [Address at Harrow School, 29 October 1941]
Let’s use words that create optimism and hope. Our viewpoint matters!
I had been running errands most of the afternoon, leaving my children at home with my 16-year-old son who was supposedly “babysitting.” As I came home, just as I opened the door, I heard my 13-year-old son say, “Hide the evidence.”
……………...Not a very relaxing thought, right?
I walked in, and immediately saw that evidence. The children had been watching a movie (which I had asked them not to do), and they had been eating ice cream. Eating in that room was definitely against the rule. In addition, ice cream was not on the approved list of snacks, and everyone knew it. The dog was on the couch (not allowed), and toys with multiple pieces were scattered all over the floor.
Look at this article in the Deseret News newspaper, dated Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
Lois Collins talks about the recent protests against having a conservative speaker lecture at a college campus. Many people disagree with his ideas. Yet - on the other hand - there are those who either agree with the ideas, or who want to hear more about them so they can decide for themselves. . The point made in this article is that we live in a society based on the right to free speech. The ideas this speaker has are not violent, and don’t incite violence.
We need to be able to allow others to express their ideas, even when their ideas are contrary to our own.
In our communications class we talk about judgment. Many people say:
“Judgment is bad. Don’t do it.”
“You have no right to judge.”
However, as we discuss judgment in class, we think about the fact that it is important that we DO judge -- some things.
We have to be able to judge if someone is going to harm us or not. We need to judge in some way, just so that we can protect ourselves.
Most people take the Principles of Communication course and expect to improve communication in terms of how they talk with other people. They expect improved relationships, or hope to be able to work with co-workers more effectively, or hope to find a way to set boundaries with a “difficult person” in their lives.
Time and time again, the feedback form tells me that the Number One thing that they gained from the course was increased positive self esteem.
That’s exactly why I teach the course.
I keep thinking about one particular question, and that question has changed my life.
*Why do I want to communicate?
One reason we don’t succeed at setting goals is because we have not identified what we value, so we don’t know why what we are doing is important. For example, suppose our goal is this:
Keep the house clean.
So I make a plan, and I decide: I am going to clean the bathroom every week.
One day one of my sons said to me, “I am just never going to understand math.”
He was very discouraged. He had spent a long time doing his math assignment, but only got 12 out of 25 problems right.
He said, “I don’t understand math. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
I said to him, “What are you going to do?”
Words can have a powerful influence in our lives.
I remember an experience when I was about 13 years old. One of the women in our local church congregation came up to me and handed me a note card. Inside, she had written a nice letter, telling how much she respected me, and how happy she was to know me. She expressed appreciation for a talent she had noticed I had, and told me she really cared about me.
A friend of mine told me about her very frustrating day last week. She had volunteered to watch a neighbor’s children while the neighbor went to an appointment. She did this willingly, and wanted to help her friend.
However, the neighbor was late getting back. After the appointment, she had stopped to do some other things. She arrived home more than two hours after my friend had expected her.
My friend was upset about this. She wanted to know what she should have done.
I asked her if she could label her specific feelings.