you inspire me. yes, I mean YOU.
If you are overcoming challenges, you inspire me to persevere.
If you are making a positive difference, you inspire me to join you.
If you are killin it, you inspire me to work harder.
If you are consistent, you inspire me to develop discipline.
If you are gracious, you inspire me to be kind and patient.
If you help someone, you inspire me to pay it forward.
If you give, you inspire me to be generous.
If you are discouraged, you inspire me to encourage.
If you are heartbroken, you inspire me to be compassionate.
If you face a problem, you inspire me to learn.
If you are struggling, you inspire me to equip.
If you are striving, you inspire me to edify.
If you judge, you inspire me to investigate.
If you generalize, you inspire me to acknowledge nuance.
If you oversimplify, you inspire me to sort out complexity.
If you blame others, you inspire me to take responsibility.
If you complain, you inspire me to take action.
If you hate me, you inspire me to forgive.
If you mock someone, you inspire me to stand up for them.
If you dehumanize someone, you inspire me to #seepeople.
If you point out the negative, you inspire me to recognize the positives.
If you misjudge me, you inspire me to prove you wrong through consistent word and action, rather than explanation or argument.
you inspire me. no matter what. whether you recognize your actions on this list or whether I’ve missed noting them. you inspire me.
because everyone is #justadifferentkindofbroken and even when we “miss the mark” God has been redeeming the failures of broken people since the beginning of time.
It doesn’t always seem that way at first or at the surface, but in my experience, when I get to know someone more deeply, we find our common ground. And when we build our friendship on that foundation, it’s resilient and edifying.
The use and/or abuse of inflammatory language is one reason I don’t rely on anyone else’s explanation or interpretation for accurate, objective information. I search for and read/watch original sources rather than trust articles and videos which summarize, interpret or ‘splain them.
(And yes, “splain” is an inflammatory word, a derivative of mansplaining, but it’s genderless condescension. I said I don’t rely on inflammatory words for accurate, objective information. I didn’t say I never use them.)
But back to the post…I wanted to see what kind of reaction those 98 words evoked. The comment count showed there were 4.3K comments, but when selecting the option to see “All comments” the thread indicated only 2960 comments were available (that’s an example of shadow banning, btw)
While reading through the available comments, I was prompted to look up another definition.
I have a personal aversion to groupthink, so the potential negative effect of an echo chamber is one reason I make sure I intentionally and consistently seek out and include listening and processing alternative interpretations and conclusions.
That said, if those alternative interpretations and conclusions are built on secondhand sources – or no sources at all – they lose credibility with me.
You may have seen the following letter written by “This is Us” actor, Lonnie Chavis. These images are from his original facebook post:
I haven’t watched “This is Us” yet. But I did see the 4 minute clip he talks about here and it was a punch in the gut.
“The director and writers told me that they didn’t need me to cry for the scene. However, it was hard for me not to cry as I witnessed what I had just learned was my reality. I wasn’t acting. I was crying for me. Can you imagine having to explain to a room full of white people why I couldn’t hold back my real tears while experiencing the pain of racism?” Lonnie Chavis
We’ve come so far in the fight against racism and we’ve made so much progress on the road toward cultural competence and inclusion. Until just a few months ago, I genuinely thought we were still steadily moving forward.
At best, it seems progress is stalled.
At worst? If we’re not careful and intentional and diligent, we could slip backwards toward segregation and division.
It will take incremental steps and years for continued change to come to fruition. Implementing extensive change throughout widespread and interlocking systems and institutions is a mammoth objective with countless prerequisites and dependent tasks. The shadow of this mammoth task can block our vision and prevent us from recognizing opportunities to be active partners within these larger efforts, as well as prevent us from seeing opportunities to use our talents and skills to effect change within our own circles of influence.
Unless we intentionally search for those opportunities, we can fall into thinking that, as an individual, our voice is too small to make a concrete difference and that to be heard, our options are limited to voting and activism; such as protesting, signing petitions, donating money, and posting on social media.
Unless we recognize the cumulative and exponential results that grow from countless individuals working one-on-one to change the trajectory of a single person’s life, we run the risk of becoming incapacitated by the self-defeating belief that our individual contribution “isn’t going to cut it” as someone told me recently.
Acrimonious cynicism is counter-productive and that conclusion is unfounded. I’ve seen firsthand the results of helping a single individual break the cycle of generation poverty and overcome situational poverty and that kind of transformation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When you help one person, the change in their life is contagious. It infects their family and friends. I’ve been focusing on helping individuals for over 5 years now and I’m not going to give up on them because of a cynical dismissal that equates the results these hard working people achieve to being “coddled.” They are courageous and earn every hard fought success.
Some may call me naive, but I believe we can do more than protest, sign petitions, donate money, post on social media and vote.
If we want continued change and effective reform
I believe we need innovative ideas from
diverse groups of people uniting together,
blocking groupthink and creating synergy
I believe we need achievable goals
with sustainable results and
strategic plans tactically deployed
by teams of dedicated individuals
I believe we need patience and perseverance
for incremental steps, grace for failing,
course corrections and permission to try again.
Each of us has unique talents, skills and passions and there are countless opportunities for each of us to be good stewards of those gifts and make a positive difference in someone’s life by meeting a need. If you really want to find a way to help, look for organizations who are already serving in ways that align with your passion. Call a school and ask if there’s a struggling student who needs tutoring, check out Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or similar organizations. It doesn’t even have to be local. Now that so many people know how to use video chat, you can volunteer without leaving your house. Don’t devalue what you’re good at and look for ways to share it, equipping, inspiring and encouraging someone, even if you only have an hour a week or an hour a month. You can change someone’s life.
I recently learned of an inmate who is making a difference in individual lives – from inside prison. Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll entered prison illiterate at age 17 and after teaching himself to read, he studied finance and the stock market. When a warden (strongly) encouraged he teach other inmates, he started teaching financial literacy. These days, Robin William’s son, Zak co-teaches with him to support prison rehabilitation programs.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
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.
Saw a comment by an HR professional in which they condemned someone for posting a link to a story and then strongly disagreed with people commenting on the post, calling them “disgraceful and dishonorable.” They ended by saying:
“I hope the people you work with have access to some of the hateful comments some of you have shared here.”
My first thought was, wait.
Did an HR professional just promote doxing and termination?
This person’s entire career centers around employee development and training. They are a professed Christian and appear to have a lifelong passion for helping people find and reach their potential. Doxing and termination seemed counter to everything they work toward. They had an opportunity to influence and not only did they miss it and waste it, they intentionally threw it away.
It nagged at me. Like, “couldn’t sleep till after 4am” kinda nagged at me. I prayed about whether to reply and if so, what to say. Nothing seemed right. So, the next day, I went back to the post and replied, ditching all the possibilities I had considered and just straightforwardly asked:
What do you mean when you say “I hope the people you work with have access to some of the hateful comments some of you have shared here.”
I was genuinely hoping I was wrong and that if I wasn’t, that there might be an opening for dialogue.
Within an hour, they replied:
“The message above is very clear.”
For a fraction of a second, I thought about responding. I prayed. And this thought popped into my mind:
I’m not responsible for the outcome of the conversation.
My responsibilities are, at the very least, to:
1. respond to opportunities to have conversation and
2. ask the Holy Spirit to equip me for the conversation so I can respond instead of react
3. do my best to respond respectfully and humbly.
I genuinely believe part of my calling is to put stones in shoes, and leave the work up to the Holy Spirit to soften hearts and open minds. What that means to me is that, if after a conversation with me, someone is thinking more deeply about something than they were before, then I’ve been a good steward of that particular opportunity.
and I need to let it go so I can get some sleep. Because I need to be alert enough to recognized the next opportunity.
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.
#seepeople and #edify because everyone is #justadifferentkindofbroken
#KindnessisContagious but so is #sarcasm and #criticism
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?
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.
~ 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.
I’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.”
I’ve been saying that for years. To my kids, to students and to myself, whenever the situation calls for it. It’s one of my idioms.
This afternoon, I read an article about a controversial subject in which the writer gave the distinct impression that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is ignorant.
Not ignorant in an uninformed or misguided way. There was no attempt to inform or guide. The writer declared “palpable and inescapable love” for God and their neighbor, but as I read, I found myself thinking of the word contempt, not love.
The examples were taken to an extreme, seemingly in an effort to evidence the stupidity and expressions of hate by anyone who believes differently.
For the purposes of this post, the issue itself is irrelevant. I personally didn’t identify with either side of the specific issue being written about. The idea that no other (more complicated) possibilities of thought or action exist is implausible.
Issues under debate are not simple. If they were simple, there wouldn’t be so much debate.