What are you trying to say?

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This past week I had the joy of babysitting one of my precious granddaughters, Scout Jubilee, 2 days in a row.  We had such fun together, however, we also faced a real challenge!  Scout is now a big talker, firmly expressing her thoughts about many different elements of her little life.  To her, she is speaking very clearly and certainly loud enough for her Mimi to fully understand what she is trying to convey.

Imagine her dismay when she looked into my very confused face and heard me say numerous times “Scout, Mimi doesn’t understand what you are saying.” Scout kept saying over and over “Ne Ne” and I kept asking her about different options to unlock the meaning of the words that clearly held a strong meaning for her!  After about and hour of trying to unlock the mystery I decided she was probably a little tired so I would kiss her and carry her upstairs for her afternoon nap.  The moment I headed up the stairs Scout started to say “Ne ne” all over again; but this time with her little head lying exhausted on my shoulder! And then it hit me, this little darling had been trying so hard to let me know she was very tired and wanted to go “night, night”!!

Because of my inability to clarify her words, I completely missed what she was longing to express! ( she slept for a little over 3 hours, by the way!)

I have pondered this experience with Scout and began to wonder how often we are all on the expressing side and the understanding side of a conversation.  I wonder how often we fail to express our heartfelt thoughts in a way the someone can truly understand what we are longing to say?  I wonder how often we fail to hear the real meaning of the words someone is trying to express to us?

Engaging in quality conversations can be a real art sometimes and I believe if we really want to understand someone else, if we really want to be able to respond in such a way as to make a difference, then we need to keep clarifying until we can see or hear that we have “got it”!! Are there any conversations in your relationships that are needing further clarification?  Are there questions needing to be asked for greater understanding?  The efforts to understand will make a big difference.

“The single biggest problem in a conversation is illusion that one has taken place!”  George Bernard Shaw

Thoughts for the New Year~

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Life can be so busy, right?  We run here and there getting through our list of tasks each day with barely a margin to catch our breath. At least I have found myself in this situation more often than I care to admit!

This year, while considering a meaningful New Years Resolution, I felt impressed to make a concerted effort to slow down, acknowledging and appreciating those who serve my life in so many ways:  Airline stewardesses, waiters, retail clerks, grocery baggers, gas station attendants, etc.

I have learned some interesting things in the process:

1.  It takes extra time and intentionality to slow down enough to look someone in the eye and ask how they are doing.

2.  People rarely hear a “thank you” in service work and are really taken aback ( in a good way) when they receive an expression of appreciation.

3.  It takes courage to be intentional and express appreciation.  Even when I feel grateful I might not verbally express it.  I get a little nervous, to be honest.

4.  When people feel you are sincere in asking about them, they will open up in really surprising ways.  In doing so I have learned so many stories of those with whom I have interacted. Really special.

5.  Once appreciation has been expressed, the interaction takes on a whole new feeling when we see one another again. 🙂

I have worked in the service industry in my life and know how it feels when my days were full of grumpy, busy, or entitled people.  It’s tough.

How about we all slow down a little bit in the coming year and encourage those who serve us in so many ways. How about we express our appreciation in creative and kind ways.  It’s amazing what we can learn about people, and ourselves!

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Conversation Shake-Up~

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Over a year ago, my son and his wife gave us a box of conversation questions from a company called Table Topics.  I thought it was a clever idea, fun.  What I have actually recognized about their value is the unique way fresh questions can unlock meaningful conversations in a whole new way!

It is so easy to get locked into routine conversations around work, ministry, money, and children.  We partner with our spouse and we parent our children; which is all good.  But, what if we make an effort to simply want to KNOW more about those we love rather than spending the bulk of our time directing schedules and managing behaviour?

What if we gave ourselves a time-out from routine conversations at the table or in the car, using that time to ask about dreams, favorite things, ideas, and best memories? Perhaps even using that time to ask about the “highs” and “lows” of the day!  I imagine you will experience some un-expected moments of fresh understanding.  For some reason an unexpected question often takes the direction of the connection to a new place.

Table Topics is a great tool, but if we are intentional enough to want to experience fresh insights with our friends and loved ones; we can easily prepare some of our own, having them ready to use when the time arises!

As a coach I am asking my clients questions all the time. I have been amazed to watch a quality question give way to a truly rich conversation.

Perhaps this is the year to shake out of the mundane and make your conversations really count!