Heads Up, Connectors
I'm about ways we connect through our communication. However, for now let's look at ways that we can carelessly disconnect, and how to prevent that from happening. If we prevent disconnect we can communicate and if we can communicate we're in a position to teach.
First, consider this. There might be rare instances in which, for legitimate reasons, we actually want to disconnect from someone. It might involve negative circumstances, differences in direction, personality differences or differing values. These things happen and, as a result, necessitate personal and often painful decisions. In such instances, let's keep the following in mind: (1) Try to disconnect without causing the other person to lose face and (2) disconnect in such a way as to avoid regrets over how we handled it.
Though sometimes necessary, the decision to disconnect cannot be taken lightly. Keeping that in mind, and because generally we do not wish to disconnect from anyone, let's look at the mindset we need for staying connected. Heads up!
Thankfulness counts. Relationships generally have their roots in what we like about people. So, on this basis teaching begins and all is well. Then, if not careful, we begin to see characteristics that bug us. Also, over time, we forget the likes and the reasons the relationship was formed in the first place. And, in our minds, the dislikes become greater than the likes.
Though it's possible that a change in the other person has taken place, often the negative was there to start with, and we simply need to stop to remind ourselves of what the person has meant and does mean to us. Why did we connect and what would a disconnect ultimately look like? It could be that rethinking the situation will give us needed cause for humility and thankfulness.
Introspection is key. When I was in the high school band, my mom told me about a fictitious mom who was watching Johnny marching in the band at a football game. Suddenly the mom hollered to everyone nearby, "Would you look at that? Everyone's out of step but my Johnny!"
Well, that's certainly a unique perspective. It's also a perspective we can have of ourselves. It's easy to think that when connections become frayed it's everyone else's fault. But, is it always? Perhaps, if I have a problem with everyone, I'm the problem.
With all of us and in all of our connections, we need to step back once in a while and ask ourselves who really is out of step.
Kindness connects. In his wonderful book, Stop Talking, Start Communicating, Geoffrey Tumlin says, "...kindness doesn't create a fraction of the problems that unkindness does." Ain't that the truth!
For some reason many in our society have decided they'd rather have the problems than be "inconvenienced" by applying kindness. Perhaps this is because of the prevalence of electronic communication, where it's so easy to be rude to those we don't see face to face and perhaps never will. Or maybe it's because, in the media, we see so much "in your face" communication that we think it's the norm and is acceptable. Regardless, one of the easiest ways I know of to "unconnect" is to be unkind. I like what Emerson said: "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." It's something to think about.
Reason rules. We all like to think that we are totally reasonable, all the time. I know I am. Aren't you? Think about this: Have you ever been angry? Have you ever been unreasonable while angry?
Not only do we tend to say unreasonable things while we're angry. We tend to say hurtful things. Often, when we're angry, the thing we most want to say is the worst possible thing to say under the circumstances. Someone has wisely said, "Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." It could be that what we will regret most is the loss of a connection that could have been teachable.
PEOPLE CONNECTOR: Heads up if you wish to stay connected.
About This Contributor
Elevating Communication for Educators
Elevating Communication for Educators