tension and paradox.
recognizing valid points on both sides of a complex issue.

When I agree with someone about a point they make,
it does NOT follow that I agree with EVERYthing they say or believe.
When I DISagree with someone about a point they make,
it does NOT follow that I disagree with EVERYthing they say or believe.

If you know me, you know I read and research a lil’ bit. 😉
I often say that I “eat the chicken and spit out the bones” and I’m not talking about barbecue.

I can honestly say I don’t limit my searching and learning to align with my own “latitude of acceptance” as it’s called in communication theory. I have books written by atheists organized alphabetically along with theologians in the apologetic section of my bookshelves. Doesn’t make me a heretic.

I research all sides of an issue because I’ve come to understand that dismissing, ignoring or ridiculing alternative viewpoints doesn’t invalidate them or strengthen my own beliefs.

Very often, this kind of research puts me in the position of recognizing valid points on both sides of a complex issue. There’s tension in that place. Paradox. Conflicting thoughts, opinions and ideas don’t fit together easily. Doesn’t mean the ones we don’t agree with are invalid.

Like I said. Tension and paradox.

But accepting that tension and paradox is what makes it possible for me to agree or disagree with someone about SOME things they say/believe and NOT agree or disagree about EVERYthing they say/believe.

It’s also why I can respect a person who disagrees with me about something without inferring from that disagreement that they are ignorant, hateful, intolerant, “brainwashed” or that their character is severely flawed.

People and issues are complex and understanding is hard work.

It’s worth the effort.

Our words and actions, whether online or IRL, reveal something of our true beliefs and character.

As often as I see it, I will never be desensitized to adult bullying.

It surprises me every time.

Especially when it comes from someone who knows the pain of being on the receiving end.

And the duplicity genuinely confuses me.

IRL kindness and then,

BAM.

Dehumanizing and cruel mocking.

SO. MANY. posts and comments about leaders that are flat out mean and hateful.

I’m reminded of a blog post I wrote back in 2018:

…duplicity was the unacknowledged elephant in the room when the internet-infused courage of this person deflated like a day old birthday balloon during real life interactions: what happens online, stays online.

Except, it doesn’t.

Our words and actions, regardless of whether they are online or IRL, reveal something of our true beliefs and our character:
“…surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.” [emphasis added] #IreadthereforeIquote
C. S. Lewis

We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. This situation is incredibly complicated. I can’t imagine the stress of striving to make the best decisions in this no-win hornet’s nest while at the same time getting the $#!+ kicked out of me by both the media and hundreds of thousands of armchair commentators.

They have to be exhausted. And yet they continue to put themselves out there every day knowing they’re going to end up a target.

Again.

#seepeople and #edify because everyone is #justadifferentkindofbroken
#KindnessisContagious but so is #sarcasm and #criticism

To the marginalized and silent 99%: You have something of value to contribute.

I recently snatched up a $1 offer for access to a huge amount of content within an online writers group for 30 days and I’ve been DEVOURING it. The first day, I listened to a podcast interview with Albert Y. Hsu (pronounced “shee”), a senior editor with InterVarsity Press. Based on the description of the interview, I wasn’t sure if the content would be for me, but one teaser stood out:

“What publishers look for in an author’s platform (and it’s different than you think!).”

What PUBLISHERS look for wasn’t what drew me in, it was the WHY. I was hoping that the WHY would give me insight on how to identify and reach people who are interested in learning and practicing the communication methods I teach. And while I’m not currently writing a book that I want to pitch to a publisher, I do recognize some parallels between being an author and being a teacher: we both want to reach, inspire and help people.

Below are some quotes from the interview that I was still thinking about the next day – so much so that I re-watched the video in order to capture them and continue working through the answers:

“Part of what we do as authors, is that we meet people where they’re at and then we take them somewhere else. Take them further. There has to be a point of identification, but there also has to be a point of dislocation. So we are both contextualizing; saying our words in a way that people can receive, but then we are also being counter-cultural and giving them something that doesn’t just reinforce what they already know. It has to take them another step.”

This is huge for me in consulting and coaching. I ask a LOT of questions and – based on the answers – I ask more questions. Sometimes clients get impatient and want to skip this part of the process, but I have to start with where they ARE – and what led them to where they are – before I can help them explore options for their next best steps.

“Who is the audience and what are the channels to GET to that audience?…If you don’t have a channel to that audience, it’s almost like those readers don’t exist.”

How do I reach people? I’ve learned I have to meet them where they are. Forget the “if you build it they will come” mentality. That only works for ethereal baseball games and Disney.

“What do I have to offer that other people don’t. What’s missing?”

And look who just showed up. Imposter syndrome, my old friend.

In answering the question, “What would you tell first time authors?” he said, “I often ask them, ‘What’s your thing? What are you known for?'”

What’s my “thing?”

I know I’m passionate about communicating well. Effectively, respectfully and empathetically. I genuinely believe that the world would be a MUCH better place if we consistently tried to say what we mean without BEING mean. There would be less division, more respect and comradery and relationships would be stronger.

I think I’m known for that. but I’m not sure.

I’m also not sure who is interested in strengthening their communication skills or how to reach them.

After listening to this podcast, I had a tiny little epiphany. Am I having trouble finding these like-minded people because they are so quiet?

I have to remind myself again and again of the 1% rule:

“The 1% rule states that the number of people who create content on the Internet represents approximately 1% (give or take) of the people actually viewing that content. For example, for every person who posts on a forum, generally about 99 other people are viewing that forum but not posting.

And the internet population is only 40% of the world population.

But the 1% is so freakin pervasive.

On a daily basis, in every nook and cranny of the internet, I’m inundated with language that dehumanizes, mocks, dismisses, creates division and feeds polarization.

It seems like everywhere I look, language is used as a weapon to bludgeon someone.

Do the people doing the swinging genuinely not recognize the damage they inflict? Do they just not care? Are they oblivious to how they are perceived?

For instance, a facebook friend posted about the cruise ship that wasn’t being allowed to dock during the Covid-19 quarantine, sharing her disapproval of the passengers for even getting on the boat in the first place. But she backtracked pretty quickly when another facebook friend commented to tell her that a couple they both knew were stuck on that ship.

When “those people” became people she knew, she DID care how she was perceived.

Another commenter, not so much:

“I may be a jerk but they knew the risks…. stay on the ship. 🤷🏼‍♀️”

I held myself back from adding to the snark by replying with: “Well, you got one thing right. And how could they have known?”

I held myself back. Because if I had called her out like that in front of her friends,

1. I would be a jerk.
2. She probably wouldn’t care, because when I looked up that emoji she ended with, I found this:

The person shrugging emoji can designate ignorance, indifference, self-acceptance, passive-aggression, annoyance, giving up, or not knowing what to make of something. It could also be a visual form of the one-word response of indifference, “whatever.”

So here’s my take. When this person led with “I may be a jerk” she KNEW she was being a jerk. And she posted it anyway. I don’t know this person, but this is the first impression she made

1. with me and
2. with all the other commenters on that thread, and
3. with all the friends of the original poster and
4. with all the friends of every other commenter.

Because that’s how facebook works.

But I digress.

My thing. Being passionate about communicating well.

Who needs what I have to offer?
I believe everyone could benefit from strengthening their communication skills. I’ve been studying and practicing communication methods for decades and I’m still learning and growing.

But who wants what I have to offer?
The 1%?
Maybe.

What about within the other 99%? What “channels” should I use to reach them?

Looking at local, in person and possibly off-the-grid people, I already know some first steps to figure out who is interested: networking, public speaking to special interest groups, continuing with the consulting, training and coaching I already do…but moving beyond that…

Talking through my thoughts with the hubs:

“I’m wondering if one reason I’m having such a hard time [identifying people I can help] is because they are so quiet. Are they hidden in the 99%?

If 60% of the population isn’t even active on the internet and of the remaining 40%, only 1% is posting, then we’re talking about a fraction of that 1% who don’t seem to care whether they add to the negativity in the world.

I know so many people who, in real life, seem so kind and gracious. Then they get behind a keyboard, post a passive aggressive remark and sit back to watch and stir up the $#!+storm they’ve created.

Do they not recognize what they’re doing? Do they not care?

I genuinely don’t understand the duplicity.

And I don’t think I ever will. But I think that for the first time, I do understand those are NOT my people. They aren’t interested in communicating well or how they are perceived. When they post something that tears down, they either don’t know, don’t care or don’t care that they don’t know. I don’t comment on their negative posts because it’s pretty clear I would be the odd man out. WAY out.

The comment threads are full of 1%ers. The 99%ers are quiet. We all know that if we counter-comment on a negative post, one of three things will happen:

1. We’ll get attacked and it won’t be pretty.
2. We’ll be covertly blocked from their posts in the future.
3. We’ll get unfriended.

Maybe the people in the 99% are staying quiet because they’re taking a look at what’s being posted and instinctively responding with: “Hard pass.”

So, while the 1% may be the loudest, it’s definitely not overflowing with people who want to be intentional about communicating well. Those are the people I’m looking for.

Are they all in the silent majority?”

Hubs, after listing to my rambling stream of consciousness thought process: “You need to work on this some more. You’re onto something, but you’re not there yet.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Hubs: “A cow has four stomachs.”
Me: “So…what? I’m on stomach #2?
Hubs: “I love how you knew what I was talking about.”

So is my thing metaphors? I do love metaphors.

And so I continue to work on it.

I remembered something else Albert Hsu said in the podcast:

“We don’t write apologetics books for the non-christian. They’re not going to pick up a Christian book. We write the book for the Christian friend…to serve them to reach their friend.”

Translating that to helping people strengthen their communication skills: I can’t help people who don’t care that they use language as a weapon. I can help the people they hurt – to respond effectively, respectfully and empathetically.

I can help those who DO care about the impact of their words and those who are silent, not because they have nothing of value to contribute, but because because they feel marginalized. If I can find them, I want to equip some of the 99%ers to become effective peacemakers, to model respectful debate and to resolve conflict empathetically.

And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, some of the negative 1%ers will notice. and begin to care.

You Find What You Look For. What are you missing?

Sometimes, with people, you find what you look for. #SeePeople because we're all #JustaDifferentKindofBroken

Sometimes, with people, you find what you look for. #SeePeople because we're all #JustaDifferentKindofBrokenSometimes
with people,
you find what you look for.

What if you questioned your assumptions?

What if you asked questions?

And listened.

It’s easier and faster to assume you’ve got someone figured out based on your first impression of them.
It’s easier and faster to assume you know someone’s motivations based on your interpretation of their words and actions.
It’s easier and faster to assume you have no blind spots or biases when it comes to evaluating another person or situation.
It’s easier and faster to write someone off as not worth your time or a second thought. as less or an idiot…or a bigot or a zealot.
It’s easier and faster to dehumanize someone by categorizing them with an adjective or labeling them with a derogatory term or encapsulating them with a pithy meme or quote.

What if you’re wrong? What does that say about your character? Do you care?

People are inconvenient.
They take time. and effort. and sometimes risk and and humility and vulnerability.

But consider this. People take the faster, easier path when they encounter you.

If you are a person of faith, consider this. If you take the easier, faster path with people in your life – whether in fleeting encounters with strangers, casual interactions with acquaintances or the hard work of closer relationships – are you missing something? What would God have you do in each of those opportunities? What would you do differently if you prayed about it?

Would you choose easy and fast? or risk and humility and vulnerability?
Dismissal? Or an opportunity to be an encouragement and a witness and a testament for the grace and unconditional love God has freely given to you?

Will you attempt to act and speak on your own or will you ask the Holy Spirit to guide and equip you to be His hands and feet and eyes and ears and voice?

Don’t miss a blessing in disguise because you’ve dismissed the possibility that God could use THAT person to speak into your life.

Don’t miss an opportunity to be a blessing in someone’s life for the sake of an easier, faster path to your own goals and comfort zone.

#SeePeople and #edify because everyone is #JustaDifferentKindofBroken

 

problem solving and benchmarking.
facing a problem? search for what's been done before.

I’m not that special.

I feel like I’ve written about this before, but when I’m facing a problem, I tend to believe that someone, somewhere, sometime has faced either my exact same problem or one very similar to it. And that at least one person who has faced and solved this problem – or at least figured out a workaround or a compromise – has written about it (or posted a video about it on youtube).

My first instinct is to search for what they wrote to benchmark best possible solutions.

More often than not, I find some information that helps me. Sometimes in a book, in an article, buried in a comment thread or even on a pinterest board or youtube, I’ve found solutions – or at least ideas – that have helped me in countless situations, from how to change my specific computer’s laptop screen to how to interact with a narcissist to how to have a crucial conversation to…I did say countless situations.

Most of the time, when I research, I get one of four results:

1. I find the exact best solution to my problem.

2. I find a solution that doesn’t quite work for me, but I can modify it a bit to solve my problem.

3. I find a solution that doesn’t work for me at all, but it sparks an idea for something I hadn’t considered before.

4. I find out what DOESN’T or won’t work.

By being patient, doing my research, putting forth extra effort and not giving up easily, I’ve saved money, time and even relationships. Often, after learning how someone else approached a problem, I’ve gotten what I needed, gotten what I wanted and again, even gotten confirmation that a particular approach would NOT be a good idea.

I love learning from other people’s successes – and mistakes.

 

People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening.
Why would anyone want to engage in conversation with someone who thinks they are stupid?

January 20th [2017].

I should NOT have gone on facebook.

So. much. hate.

contemptuous mocking. sarcasm. ridicule.

Not just for DT, but for everyone who doesn’t overtly hate him.

My facebook feed was toxic, repelling me away.

Post after meme after video after tweet after comment,
reiterating again and again and again and again and again
how stupid and intolerable anyone is if they don’t hate
DT – AND everyone who “supports” him.

I think I’ve actually been grieving. genuinely, profoundly sad.

not because DT is the president.

The long term impact (positive and/or negative) of these next four years is yet to be evidenced.

not because people think I’m [insert contemptuous label here] because I don’t hate the same people they do.

I’ve been hated and shunned for being different before. It’s no fun, but it’s nothing new.

I’m grieving because I can’t un-know what I’ve learned about so many people I genuinely liked and respected:

That they have the capacity to be so callously and unflinchingly VICIOUS towards people who believe differently than they do. And not just because of differences – the actual differences aren’t even being acknowledged, much less discussed. It’s the relentless derisive personal attacks on the character of people who believe differently.

This is the one that finally drove me away:

fbh8te

Burn in Hell? Seriously? Burn in HELL?

This person is saying this to their own facebook friends. People they know personally – and supposedly like. This is not the only post like this from this particular person, much less the only post like this from a number of other people in my facebook feed. and I only have about 300 friends. If I actually unfriended every person who demanded that “unfriend them right now!!” if I don’t hate DT or anyone who voted for him, that number would be even lower. I imagine my facebook feed is not the only one contaminated with this virulent stream of bigotry.

All this blatant cruelty leaves me with these nagging thoughts:

When someone mocks, ridicules or derisively condemns a group of people,

Do they not realize there’s a strong chance they have a personal relationship with someone they would identify as belonging to that group?

And if they do recognize that some of their friends are “those people,” do they not make the connection that they are mocking and ridiculing and condemning their friend? or family member?

Maybe they themselves didn’t mock anyone. Maybe they just liked or commented or shared a post that does.

Do they not realize that the action of liking, commenting and sharing validates the attack?

That it aligns them with the attacker?

stop-hate-peace-signDo they not realize it’s evidence that their “no H8te” duct tape selfie and the “STOP HATE” peace sign they posted are dishonest and betray their true beliefs?

And that despite the safety pin they wore or posted online, a percentage of their friends know that the only reason they are safe from outright attack from the safety pin bearer is that they’ve remained silent. under the radar. out of line of sight.

Not that silence keeps anyone safe from judgment and ostracization. Because lack of commiseration makes you suspect. The solidarity of those who hate DT is stronger than a red rover line of linebackers who just picked their nose. Nobody wants to risk going near that. Better to stay away. where it’s REALLY safe.

As a result, many of my facebook friends have been missing. Silent. For months.

I completely understand.

Why would anyone want to engage in conversation with someone who thinks they are stupid?
Why would anyone make themselves vulnerable to attack by someone who’s evidenced that they prefer to talk ABOUT them as an enemy than WITH them as a friend?

so. What have I’ve been grieving?

The loss of authentic friendships? or the loss of the illusion of those friendships?

The loss of my naivety? or the discovery that I didn’t know people as well as I thought I did.

Maybe people had misrepresented themselves and I only knew the persona they wanted me to know.

Whatever the reason, the breadth and cruelty – and tenacity – of these expressions of hatred and intolerance have genuinely shocked me.

I’m trying to tell myself that, in the long run, it’s better that I know the truth, not only about what some of my friends are capable of, but also what they think of me.

Right now, it doesn’t feel like it’s better.

All that interpersonal destruction aside, the question that comes back to me again and again is this:

When someone attacks, mocks, ridicules or derisively condemns, why is it that the validation of their opinions and beliefs seem to require and thrive on the ridicule of people who hold to different opinions and beliefs? Are the opinions and beliefs not strong enough to stand on their own merit?

a lesson in humility. and a reminder.

Dr. Doofenshmirtz might call the first part of this post my “backstory.”

~ I’m a firstborn and an ISTP (67%) / ISTJ (33%) who’s worked with IT personnel (mostly guys) for decades. My instinctive approach is always content over context. Logic over feelings. I’d say that about 90% of the time, I have a male gender communication style; Report talk over rapport talk. I read instruction books and follow procedures – unless of course, the reasoning behind the procedures isn’t logical, which stems from my content over context approach.

~ Pragmatic is my favorite word. The definition that most resonates with me is:

“focused on needs and results, rather than with ideas or theories”

~ I’m a trainer. I’m always learning and I sincerely believe I can learn from everyone, whether I benchmark successes or analyze failures – including my own. As an educator, I have the opportunity and responsibility to share what I’ve learned. Theoretically, the people with whom I share will make more informed decisions, increase efficiency and generally be better as a result of the knowing.

~ As a consultant, I’ve become accustomed to collaborative work groups made up of people who are task oriented and focused on problem solving.

~ Since 1994, I’ve trained and consulted for and with clients ranging from corporation presidents to managing partners to firm administrators to executive support staff to entry level support staff to volunteers. I interact with all of my clients showing the same level of respect, regardless of the formal or informal hierarchical structure of an organization.

That’s my backstory in a nutshell.

So, given all that is me, I found myself in unfamiliar territory when someone recently told me that I had overstepped a boundary.

A little over a year ago, I was working an event and just before the program officially began, this particular person gave some opening instructions. A particular part of the instructions was incorrect.

My thought process was:
1. 300+ people were just given incorrect instructions about the event.
2. The event hasn’t started yet.

So, the firstborn, ISTP/J, problem-solving educator in me gave this person the correct information.
The instructions were restated accurately.
The program began.

But I had overstepped a boundary. And for over a year, I had no idea.

Now that this had been shared with me, I could have gotten swept up into a circular debate about whether the 300+ people needed or deserved to know the correct information before the event began. But I firmly believe the Holy Spirit stopped me from that pointless and selfish attempt to be “right” and redirected my attention to the more important issue, past the factual actions which took place and instead to the person who identified a boundary where I did not.

If God was telling me that the boundary had nothing to do with the accuracy or inaccuracy of information shared, what was the implication of my crossing it?

This person felt disrespected by me. It’s possible I embarrassed them.

It was a humble reminder that my education and experience don’t automatically translate to success in my personal interactions. I’ve got a degree in Organizational Communication. I’ve taught and coached communication theory and its application for decades. I had been involved with this organization for over a decade. I was experienced and familiar with its culture and hierarchy of authority. Yet it didn’t even occur to me that correcting this person might be at odds with the norm. Looking back now, through their perspective, within the context of the organizational culture, I can see it clearly.

hindsight.

Pride and HumilityI’ve been in identical and similar events, in other venues, with different groups of people – in different cultural contexts – and the kind of interaction I’ve described has never been a big deal, even in cases when the person corrected has been upper level management or an owner of a company. In my own personal experience, the person corrected – myself included – has casually tossed back a kind of “thanks for having my back” response and has continued without skipping a beat.

“In my own personal experience…”

That’s what makes communication so difficult. It’s not one-size-fits all.

Although I was familiar with both the culture of this particular organization and the expectation of this particular individual, I drifted into my communication comfort zone. I assumed the situation was similar to the others in which I navigate.

From that assumption, came the perceived disrespect.

And the humbling reminder to actually USE my communication skills.

UPDATE: Someone asked in a comment what I SHOULD have done instead. Here’s my answer:

The person who told me I had crossed a boundary actually specifically stated what they would have preferred:
(1) to be told the correct information after the event,
(2) in private,
(3) and to be told by the person who organized the event (not me) so that,
(4) in future events, they would relay the information to the attendees correctly.

I acted instinctively, not intentionally. Although it goes against all that is pragmatic in me, I could have – should have – allowed the incorrect information to go uncorrected. It would have resulted in decreased participation in the event, which would have disappointed a number of people who had expected to be able to participate and it would have made the event less memorable. Not a tragedy, just not an optimal experience for those of the 300+ who were able to actively engaged because they had been given accurate instructions.

All that said, in full disclosure, just one month after this conversation, my husband and I attended a large meeting at another venue and while the organization’s founder and president was addressing the audience, he misstated some information. Immediately, he was interrupted from the back of the room and corrected. His response was “Thank you for that correction.” And I leaned over to FirstHusband and whispered, “And THAT’S how it’s done.”

say what you mean. don’t be mean when you say it.

facebook I dont want to see thisI cut waaay back on facebook over the last few months. Derisive sarcasm and hate were saturating my news feed, weighing and wearing me down.

As I tentatively become more active again, one of my new facebook practices is to select “I don’t want to see this” whenever I read a post declaring that something somebody said or wrote or tweeted “destroyed” something another person said, wrote or stood for. (or similar language)

These kind of smack-down statements are usually only true if you completely ignore or rule out every other aspect of a complex issue other than the one the destroyer targets.

“Destroyed” (and words like it) is the kind of inflammatory language that triggers pointless, unresolvable bickering. It doesn’t invite or facilitate open dialog. Rather, it takes the potential for conversation that might lead divisive people to discover common ground and crops it to a trite soundbite that ends in a period or an exclamation point, or worse yet – “BAM!”

If divisive issues were truly simple, there wouldn’t be so much controversy over them. #edify

“It is the mark of an educated mind
to be able to entertain a thought
without accepting it.” Aristotle

edify
Ephesians 4 29 Bible

seasoned with salt.

Be salt and light. Matthew 5:13-16

Be salt and light. Matthew 5:13-16If you profess Christianity, please be careful in your discussions about controversial issues today. Please don’t be arrogant. You’re never going to change someone’s mind when you’re words are laced with arrogance or contempt.

What’s your goal?

You don’t have to try and get someone to agree with your point, but you can introduce doubt in their thinking by respectfully questioning the things they say that you don’t agree with.

If your goal is just to be right, you’re missing an opportunity. People are watching and listening.

When we profess faith in Christ, we are called to submit our minds to Him so that they would be transformed. Our words should be seasoned with salt.

Please pray before you speak and ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you instead.

If you publish something on the internet about your belief or conviction or opinion or whatever word you want to use, please take a time-out between the moment when you think you’re finished typing and the moment you hit publish or post. I can’t tell you how many words haven’t made the cut when I take that time out. I’ve written thousands of words that never saw the light of the internet because the Holy Spirit showed me they weren’t edifying.

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sarcasm: religious and political poison.

sarcasm and stupidityReading too much on the internet today and keep thinking one thing:

Sarcasm is an ineffective persuasive technique.

It’s condescending, arrogant, divisive and shuts down dialog. It’s too often used by people in a manner to indicate that an issue is simple and anyone who doesn’t see the simplicity and logic of their side of an argument is an idiot to be ridiculed and dismissed.

Seriously.

If these issues were simple,
they wouldn’t be so controversial.

Anyone who uses trite, flippant sarcasm to make a point – especially without even acknowledging any opposing points of view – loses credibility with me

and my interest in any discussion with them about how stupid the other guy’s point of view is

– regardless of whether I am the other guy or am aligned in opinion with the person wielding the sarcasm.

sarcasm puppets and crayons