the art of communication…

I woke up this morning with a desire to share these 5 brilliant techniques I use to communicate all the time. I’m certain that I alone can help you with any communication challenges you’re facing in your life.

🛒 📞 ☎️ 🗓 📲 💻  💵 📬 🕰 💔 ✍🏽

My ideas are basically always the best anyway…or so I’m told. I know loads of brilliant people who know a lot of things and they always adore most, all of my ideas.

I’m intelligent, kind, creative, and generous. Always. Anything that challenges that belief based on my behavior, I will just have to flat out disagree with every damn time.

I don’t like having things pointed out that are in conflict with how I view myself. It feels yucky. I want that feeling to go away quickly.

🤒 🤕 🤢 🤮

Below I’ve condensed my five most effective communication tips:

#1 When someone brings attention to something I’ve done that doesn’t fit my personal view of me, I simply say that it’s a false narrative. 🤦🏼‍♀️

They’re clearly mistaken about what they think they witnessed me say or do.

For added effectiveness, I throw out some questions to help people understand why they are confused. 😳 🤪

Are you sleeping well? Still taking that medication? Do you have your eating/drinking/legal challenges under control these days? Is your brother/uncle/dealer out of jail yet? How’s that rash? Did your haircut turn out as you intended? 👍

Repetition creates familiarity, use it to your advantage.

Folks just love this technique because they don’t have to waste any time being discerning. The wordage becomes ingrained, second nature.

NOTE: Because people felt brave in even starting a difficult conversation with me, they burned a lot of their emotional energy. 😫 😴 

Capitalize on their fatigue. 🛏

#2 When someone writes me an email and I respond in a way that was confusing, somewhat cruel or insensitive to them and they take me to task about it, I have a brilliant idea for that too. 👎🏼

Well, of course I do.

I just say that someone on the internet, some bad actor must’ve edited my email to persecute me.

Then I add…you know I’ve been hacked a bunch of times, right?

See what I did there? I “primed” them by repeating that I’ve been hacked a bunch of times before.

See, you just have to plant a little, tiny seed for honest communication. 🌱

#3 When someone doesn’t want to do or say what I want them to do—here’s another fun technique I’ve come up with. I create a harmless, little nickname for them.

All in good fun, of course. 😁 😂 🤣

Here’s an example: I write a blog post about something that I think is clear and spot on. Someone decides to speak their truth about what they see or tell me how it could be improved or better understood. I don’t want their stupid feedback so I have to find a way to knock it back…so I make a joke of it.

Here’s how this technique works. After their feedback, I give them a mean, fun nickname.

Say, Clueless Miss Know-It-All, are you here from the Office of Bullshit Observations? 🕵🏼‍♀️

Who died and made you the editor of everything, Little Lord Fauntleroy? 🤴🏻

So much fun…basically a brilliant team-building exercise. 👊🏻

#4 Whenever something is said that just doesn’t really jive with how hard I work and how efficiently I get things done all the time, I have this communication skill at my disposal.

Do you know about the brilliance of “whataboutism”? You don’t? Well, that’s sort of stupid of you, anyway… 💁‍♀️ 💁‍♂️

Whataboutism is so disarming that it makes people just walk away, confused and forgetting what you were even talking about in the first place. This technique is such a blast!

Merriam Webster: Whataboutism gives a clue to its meaning in its name. It is not merely the changing of a subject (“What about the economy?”) to deflect away from an earlier subject as a political strategy; it’s essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse than what the original party was accused of doing, however unconnected the offenses may be.

The tactic behind whataboutism has been around for a long time. Rhetoricians generally consider it to be a form of tu quoque, which means “you too” in Latin and involves charging your accuser with whatever it is you’ve just been accused of rather than refuting the truth of the accusation made against you.

Here are some whataboutism examples:

If my husband says or texts

I wished you had called to say you were going to be late? ME: Well, you were late last Tuesday and the dinner I slaved over was ruined. That really hurt my feelings.

Why didn’t you mention X, Y or Z? ME: You never tell me anything that I need to know and it’s really taking a toll on our marriage.

Did you deposit the check in the bank? ME: Remember when you forgot to send that payment in and we paid that huge penalty? So…

What time will you be home? ME: Why are you so obsessed with knowing where I am all of the time? It’s really creepy.

I just love whataboutism. 💁‍♀️ 💁‍♂️ You will too.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin

#5 Everyone really seems to enjoy this final and really cool technique. It’s so simple, even you can understand. It’s chaos…dizzyingly, exhausting, constant chaos.

From morning till night, make sure no one actually knows what you’re doing or talking about. This creates a clever, hard to pinpoint mystery about you. You’ll look so busy, important and then you’re off the hook for any of your words or behaviors.

🚖💃🏌️‍♂️🏇🏽🎳🤹🏻‍♀️🎭 🎨🛩🚦🔍🎱 📊 📈

This technique really works best if you can be on-the-go a lot—in and out of cars (or better helicopters), shuffling stacks of papers, off to meetings, taking phone calls (they don’t have to be real) or doing whatever busy looks like in your little life.

The chaos technique is really effective if you have lots of people around you who also enjoy playing the chaos game. But, it works just fine as a solo act. Trust me. 👼

In conclusion, if anyone asks questions anything you’ve said or done that doesn’t fit how you see yourself, just breathe and use any of these five techniques I’ve so generously offered today. 🧘🏼‍♀️

Here they are in a nutshell:

1. You don’t like what someone said about you, call it a false narrative.

2. There’s evidence that you wrote or said something crappy, say you were hacked.

3. Not in the mood for honesty or criticism, play the fun nickname game.

4. If someone asks about your behavior, use whataboutism and walk away.

5. To dodge questions about your words or actions, try constant, dizzying chaos.

Good ☘️ Luck!

our wolves within…

I have to be mindful of which wolf I’m feeding all the time.

Thank you Jeff Govoni for the wolf drawing.

unprofessional networking

Until the last few years I’ve seen myself as a bohemian mother, artist, memory maker and caretaker/gatekeeper of developing minds. I’ve viewed my life’s work as the unrealized career of a woman who struggles with organization and focus…not anymore. Actually now that I even saw myself like that, it seems like total bullshit.

I thought as my children grew up that they might be disappointed in me that I didn’t have a traditional career. Talk of the other moms who were doctors, lawyers or therapists sometimes resulted in a sense of less than for me. I assumed my children would all want the total opposite of my life—high powered jobs with days spent kickin’ ass and taking names. Not days filled with kids, carpools, chores, errands, creative work (rarely sold), homemaking and hanging out with friends.

I know many families are unable to have a parent at home, a luxury indeed (especially regarding health insurance). However, increasingly folks find themselves in work/home situations that require a lot of strategy to keep things humming along. Commuting to other cities during the week, working remotely, running home businesses or freelancing are such common scenarios of modern life.

Now, five months into the identity shift of my empty nest, I thankfully see those family years so differently. Creating a home, trying to model a healthy marriage, nurturing my community, making art and being the historian-in-chief was an education deeply connected to my values and interests, there wasn’t a moment wasted (OK, maybe a few).

My years of unprofessional networking created my superpowers.

The world should watch out for parents who stayed home to raise their families. We maybe don’t have the references, titles or 401Ks that our peers have. However, we’re digitally savvy, well practiced in the art of endless diplomacy, good listeners and mighty grateful when our efforts are acknowledged. And now with the dailyness of busy family life behind us, we can do damn near anything.

homesteading my psyche

At fifty-two, I feel betwixt and between, no longer young and not yet old. Looking back I can see my life as remarkably valuable training and experience. To hell with regrets. I can’t change a damn thing. I know myself much better in midlife and that’s truly a gift. I also know I still have a lot to learn.

Like my prairie ancestors, I have an inherent longing now to settle or “prove up” one hundred and sixty acres. A sort of cognitive Homestead Act of my midlife psyche. A bit of a gamble, rife with elements of uncertainty, the heady buzz of adventure and the resilience to know I can handle whatever comes my way.

Funny to think about cognitive growth using these terms. However, metaphorically, it works pretty well. Claim my section. Select the crop.  Prep the land. Plant the seeds. Irrigate. Fertilize. Monitor growth. Harvest. Review.

These 3 simple questions help me often and perhaps might’ve helped my prairie ancestors as well. The trick is being able to actually answer them.

What’s working?

What’s not?

What’s next?

Homestead Act of 1982 “…and that such an application is made for his or her exclusive use and benefit, and that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not either directly or indirectly for the use of any other person or persons whomsoever…he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the quantity of land specified.”    

what’s your comfort zone?

I know I have to get out of my comfort zone more often, especially in this current political & social environment.  Doing so might actually be an act of revolution now.  On a long drive yesterday I caught up on some podcasts.  The first one I listened to was:  TED radio hour: comfort zones.  I highly recommend it for everyone at every stage of life.

Here’s the link: comfort zones/TED radio hour

Last week my daughters and I traveled to Washington, DC.  Lucy participated in the admitted students overnight at American University.  She slept on the dorm floor of strangers, introduced herself to kids from all over the world and wondered how her skills and talents stacked up. Talk about a seventeen-year-old stepping out of their comfort zone, right?  She stepped way out, which provided rocket fuel for her growth and made me think about my own.

Human beings tend to stick with our own kind.  It’s soooooooo much easier.  Hearing other people’s perspectives or learning something that doesn’t gel with what we’ve held to be true requires intellectual agility.  It’s hard work and requires lots of practice.  That’s why we often end up sticking to what’s safe and familiar.

In adulthood, if we don’t force ourselves into unfamiliar situations, we can get really stuck. 

As an artist, I’ve worked mostly alone for years, with very little feedback or performance reviews of any sort.  If I want to grow, I need to be told when my work is bad, uninteresting, needs far more research or is hard to understand.

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I’m truly grateful for the encouragement over the years from my friends and family regarding my creative work.  The LIKES and comments have been very supportive, but it’s not enough.

True critical feedback is hard for people to give who are close to us.  If we want to grow, we have to actively seek it out ourselves from other sources.  It’s easier to hear when there isn’t an emotional risk involved.  NOTE:  I need to keep this in mind with my nearly eighteen-year-old girls now.  They aren’t asking and I have to quit offering constant feedback now.

In the podcast, a social scientist says that possibilities come from reaching out to our “loose connections” NOT our friends & family.  This makes sense to me especially when thinking about professional opportunities.

It’s time we all take off our fuzzy slippers, put on some sturdy walking shoes and start exploring the world way outside of the comfort zone.