Do Not Yuck My Yum! And other icky opinions...

So I'm just sitting here, at a cute little coffee shop, catching up on some work while my kids are at a rehearsal nearby... and I'm enjoying a cappuccino and a cherry tart, and someone sits next to me, smiles, then looks at my tart and says "Oh, you're having the cherry tart?" and I nod, and she proceeds "Ewe!  Those are gross!  Too sweet for me!"  Wow! Seriously?

Nah, that didn't really happen.  (Well it's all true up to that last part, I made that up to illustrate the point of this post) But can you imagine if it did?  AWKWARD!  Right?  I mean who does that?
Apparently we all do.  Uh-oh!

Here's a true story:
A few years ago I went to my best friend's house for a Pampered Chef party.  In case your not on the Mom - circuit, Pampered Chef is a network marketing business that sells fancy-ish cookware.  The representatives plan parties at the home of a host, products are sampled, sales are made, the host gets freebies, it's a nice night out for Mama.  Pretty standard stuff.   Well Pampered Chef also sells packaged food mixes, sauces, etc.   So there is a lot of food prepared with PC ingredients and using the cookware.

Chastity and Me, many years later... still not yuckin' other people's yum :)
Well the "Rule" of the party was "Don't Yuck My Yum!"  Huh? It means, if you try something and you don't like it, someone else might, so just move along and don't be a jerk.  It struck me funny at the time but it was actually a necessary point to make, because it happens.  And it's applicable not just with food!

Think about how many times you made an unsolicited negative comment about something or offered unfavorable criticism, without an invitation.   You know you have, and so have I and it's actually pretty rude and as such, it is just basic bad form communication.

This afternoon my son joked with my daughter that her sweater was ugly.  They are young teens so naturally, she shot back with what they call a "burn" (and a pretty good one actually - not that I'm condoning it) and because I'm supposed to say parental things during these moments I heard the words come out of my mouth "Don't yuck other people's yum!"   There was a pause of silence before the guffaw, and then the inevitable self-defense "What? I can't have an opinion?"  Yeah, we all have opinions but not all of them have to be verbalized!   So I explained what I meant.  "Your sister likes the sweater, she didn't ask you, there was no reason for you to just blurt it out just to hear yourself speak."

And that's really the gist of it.  What's more, how often to we just blurt out random compliments that are unsolicited.  I'm sure we all do that sometimes, when we are REALLY motivated to do so, but honestly, how often do you offer an unprovoked compliment, compared to how often you offer a criticism?   Why do we do that?  Simple.  We are human and we are egocentric and that means we have weak egos and insecurities because contemporary life beats us up so any chance our subconscious has to placate our ego, it takes... and the easiest route to self stroking is to put someone else or something else down.   You do it, I do it and we are probably going to still do it.

Ah!  But now that I've written this post - and now that you've read it - we will at least try to do it less, and the next time we do, we'll catch ourselves and (if we are decent people) try to dial it back a few notches.   Lets try this instead:  when you think "Yuck!" about something and nobody asked... either clam up OR even better, offer up a compliment on something else.  Do this, and your ego will be greatly satisfied, because it really does feel good to be nice.  :)  So be nice!

Hope this was helpful to you in your quest to improve the way you communicate with your friends, neighbors, associates, teammates, soul-mates, classmates and just fellow human mates.   I know that pondering it helped me :)

And a late thank you to you, Chastity, for hosting that party and setting the Don't Yuck the Yum rule!

Like this?  Hate this?  I invite you to let me knwo.... go ahead!  I'm asking for it :)

A Funny Thing Was Me at Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest

I'm not funny.  Not on purpose anyway and whenever I am the recipient of laughter it's usually by accident.  I'm the girl that tries too hard to be funny and fails.  I'm the speaker that when speaking, tries to include a joke and it sounds forced and unnatural.  I'm the Mom that says awkward things at awkward times prompting eye-rolling and "Ma-ahm!" groans from my pre-teens.

Parent Coaching. Why Though?

I've provided coaching services for quite some time now and I enjoy it because it truly does provide a valuable benefit.  The majority of my clients are either political or professional in some capacity and typically need help with presentation skills and effectively communicating with their associates, team, constituents etc.
I've also worked with teenagers and that is a total blast!  I adore working with youth, so much more so than I ever knew I would.   The idea of being a teacher never crossed my mind when I was younger and I never once attempted to pursue that career path.   I have to admit though, that working with kids in public speaking/communication and the volunteer work I do in theatre, makes me wonder...  hmm...

I Get Along With Everyone. Except I do Not and Neither Do You.

I guess it is easy for others to assume that I naturally get along with everyone, or that I don't get into arguments, or if I do, I am smooth as silk about it and know how to win every argument and still walk away smiling with friendship.

It is easy to assume that, but if you did, you'd be wrong.   I am a good communicator.  I always have been, it's a gift.  My mother said I started babbling as an infant early on and was a loquacious toddler and articulating well from a very young age.  I was a known referee among my friends and naturally  inclined to help resolve conflict.  So it stood to reason that I studied communication and presentation in my adult life and pursued career paths that utilized this skill set.   Even post-work life, as I diverted from a professional career and devoted myself to Motherhood - I couldn't help but to find opportunities to exercise this element of my person.

Saying all this, one would wonder how, given the natural gift, the skill development, the expertise and practice, I could find myself in situations of conflict, argument and even sometimes pretty ugly stand-offs.  Here's the answer:  I'm a human being.

It's true!  It's like assuming that doctors never get sick or lawyers never get arrested.  (okay weird example, but you get the point).   Plus, I'm a native of Brooklyn, NY and I'm Italian and I currently reside in Oklahoma.  Wowzers right?  :)  I'm a very naturally aggressive person and I come on too strong sometimes.

Here's the thing though - because I do put a lot of value in communication, and because I respect the value in other people, I try.  I try every day, all the time, in every situation.    I try to adapt and be less aggressive.  I try to dial it back or dial it up when I need to.   I try to resolve conflict.  I try to avoid potential pitfalls in conversation.  I try to divert when I see it coming or be direct when the situation calls for it.   Thankfully I have the added boon of being able to diagnose fault lines and that allows me to navigate around them... but I'm not successful 100% of the time.   I have emotions and that means my feelings can get hurt and I'm not immune to the primal urge to defend my ego.

I'm confessing this because I want to encourage you to forgive yourself when communication goes awry and fights ensue, and conflict gets nasty and you fail to make yourself clear or to understand another person with accurate clarity.     But first you have to own it.  You have to learn to recognize when it is, in fact, on you, when it is All Your Fault, and embrace the responsibility to make it right - or to shut it down and walk away (which is sometimes the right thing to do).

How do you learn to get better?   Let me help.  Subscribe to this blog so we can stay in touch.  Ask me questions.  Let us, one person at a time, make this world a better place by building connections with more people and avoiding breakdown.

What do you think?  Do you have an uncanny ability to get along with everyone?
If you met me in person, would aggression put you off?  Do you come on too strong?  Do you adapt?

Do We Communicate? Or Do We Just Exasperate?

Household Internet is as common as TV, having exploded in the last 25 years.   Most of the people you encounter on a regular basis have access to, and regularly use the internet.  We use it to learn, we use it to explore, we use it for entertainment and we use it to Communicate!  It is a phenomenal tool to reach, connect to and communicate with an unlimited amount of people everywhere!  What an amazing thing! What a wonderful thing!  We should use it!

But do we use it for the value that it truly offers?  Or do we take advantage of the opportunity to broadcast our own thoughts and ideas?  Not that there is anything particularly wrong with that, but are we exclusively doing that while we shut out the amazing opportunity to learn and grow and truly understand the thoughts and ideas of others - even if they conflict with our own and threaten to pierce our fragile ego?  Hmm?

Ponder this.  I did, and I made this video in reaction to a comment thread that I watched unfold that struck me as so sad.  It could have been such a wonderfully complex conversation and it just devolved so very quickly into empty, egotistical self-projections and resistance to useful banter.

Here's what I think - and here is my advice insofar as effective, improved communication:

Follow This Blog