Archive for April, 2010


Hearts, Butterflies, and Social Skills

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This topic has been on my mind for a while.  I’d been planning on writing an article titled “Please, Thank-you, and a Smile” next month where I focused on their value.  One might say that the stars have aligned today – or in this case the behaviors have been out of line – and this one emerged instead.  

1141829_heart_butterflyI’ll apologize in advance if this sounds like a bit of a rant and lengthier than usual.  I’ll ask you to be gracious enough to bear with me.  I won’t be offended if you skip through The Rant to look at the Tipping Point, Thoughts to Ponder, Bottom line, and Background.  Each section could probably have been it’s own article.  My objective is to leave you with things to ponder.  My hope that you find things of value to think about and to help you along life’s journey.

I’d also like to thank you in advance for listening.  Really, Thank You!  I do mean that.  Sometimes the value we provide to others is simply just listening to them as they express their feelings, emotions, and opinions. 

The rant…

Has anyone else out there noticed that social skills, politeness, and basic good manners seem to be slipping?  I really don’t think it’s just my perception being skewed.  I’ve been observing this both in-person and on-line for quite a while.  If customer interactions are so important to a business, why do they often seem unimportant to the “front line” of individuals who interact with the customers?  I’ve been pondering what drives individuals’ behaviors for a while?  

  • How do incentive and reward systems, feedback, cultural norming affect behavior? 
  • Why don’t people say Please, Thank You, or I appreciate your help more often? 
  • Are we really “too busy” to be polite or is that really just an excuse, a cop-out?
  • If we are “too busy”, what can we do to become less busy and more polite?
  • When people do say Please and Thank You, do we take them with sincerity or suspect them?  If we suspect them, why do we? 

Have you stopped lately to check your own behavior?   Have you observed that many arguments continue way beyond any useful point because the parties want to “win.”   Or, in some cases so that one or more of the parties don’t feel that they would be perceived as “weak” or “giving in”.  Do you ever give yourself a “time out”?  I do.  Really, I do sometimes.  When I recognize I’m getting too frustrated and aggravated, I’ll go in another room for a few minutes so that I can calm down.  It’s about gathering myself together so that I can interact in a productive manner rather than a destructive one. 

Have you ever agreed to simply disagree?  I’ve learned to do this.  Did I always, no.  I have learned that there are times that this is simply the very best answer.  You might say that I’ve grown up – well, at least a bit.

So that’s my rant and what’s on my mind.  Thanks for listening.  May you Smile more, say Thank You more often, and help us make things just a little more positive around us. 

The root cause, motivation, and tipping point…

In case you were wondering what was the “tipping point” today?  Have you noticed how many of my links are to Wikipedia?  Today I was thinking about this and why I like Wikipedia.  I got on-line to try to find a way to say Thank You to Wikipedia’s contributors.  I wondered if anyone said Thank You to them and how to go about it.  It’s seemed to be so integrated into society in many ways that I wondered if we think about how much work it actually takes to create and maintain it.  In researching, I found the underpinnings of Wikipedia.  The more I read and thought about their guidelines, pillars, and netiquette, the more I thought about what I had been observing off-line and what the connections might be.  

I’d like to share one of Wikipedia’s five pillars.  I think that this one really applies to everything.  Not just on-line interactions. 

  • Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner.  Respect and be polite to your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree.  Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and avoid personal attacks.  Find consensus, avoid edit wars, and remember that there are 3,256,368 articles on the English Wikipedia to work on and discuss.  Act in good faith, never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point, and assume good faith on the part of others.  Be open and welcoming.

Some closing thoughts and questions to ponder…

I’ve been thinking about the underlying drivers’ of etiquette, netiquette, and social behaviors for quite a while.  I’d like to ask you to ponder a few things with me: 

  • Are really people ruder?  
  • Is this a perception or a reality? 
  • Is perception really the reality? 
  • How do you perceive it? 
    • What dimensions do you see it through?  It’s more than words. 
    • I believe it shows up in body language, expression, actions et al. 
    • I’ve observed all the “right words” being used where I can completely read the body language and the underlying motivation differently.
  • Have people lost a level of genuineness?  If so, why might this be happening?
  • How do you think email, texting, twitter, and other on-line social media might have contributed to changes in behaviors?
  • As you project into the future 5, 10, 15, or 20 years, how might changes in children’s behaviors and actions affect business and society in general?

Bottom Line… 

I don’t have any answers, only observations, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs.  While I can’t change others (each person has to change for themselves), I can work to be polite, kind, and considerate in my own little part of the world and in my on-line actions.  To smile at those around me.  Do I always do it right?  Absolutely not.  If I’m wrong or behaved poorly I’ll seek to apologize.  I’ll work to improve.  Nice does not have to mean “fake.” 

No, life’s not all hearts and butterflies as the cynical saying goes, but a smile or two would be most welcome.  A wave, a please, a thank you, and some honest to goodness sincerity too.  I value those individuals I see it in and hope they value it in me too.   As the old saying goes, it takes less muscles to smile than to frown

I’ve also been thinking a lot about a Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana song goes like this… “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it right.” 

Some Background…

The following provoked my thinking and lead to this writing this article today:

Click here for more information regarding how to make a donation to continue building Wikipedia. 

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Me and My Imagination

Me and My Imagination

Today I was thinking about perspectives and viewpoints.  How our past experiences, thoughts, and imagination influence how we see things.  I wondered how often we (the collective we) stop to consider the background, experience, and baggage (yes baggage) that we bring to the (metaphorical) table.  How often do we stop and think about how something might look different from another perspective. 

As I was thinking about this, I started pondering how a tree would look different depending on where you were – the side, above it, or underneath.  It’s the same tree, but it would look very different depending on where you are viewing it from. 

I’d like to ask that you take you on a short mental walk with me.  Can you join me in your imagination?  I’m heading out the door now.  To my right is an evergreen tree.  On the left are some flowers.  Beyond those flowers is another evergreen.  I’d like to sit down now.  Will you join me?  Yes, I know, we didn’t go far.  But I think that is as far as we need to go to gain some insights in this pondering. 

I’d like you to stop for a moment and build a mental image around you.  That is if you haven’t already.  What do you see?  Try to picture all the things I mentioned.  Here are some questions to help you build your mental picture. 

As you walked through the door:

  • What did the door look like?  Was it open or closed?
  • What color was the door?  Did it have a window in it?
  • What type of handle did it have?  Did you turn it? 
  • If you opened the door, did you open it towards you or away from you?

As you moved outside:

  • What type of surface were you standing on? 
  • Was it wet or dry? 
  • What color is it?

As you pictured the evergreens and flowers:

  • What type of evergreen(s) did you visualize?  Are both evergreens the same type?
  • How tall are the evergreens?  Which one is taller?
  • Are there any pinecones or berries on the evergreen(s)?
  • What type of flowers do you see? 
  • Are they all the same type or is there a variety?  How tall are they? 
  • Are the flowers in bloom or dormant?  What colors are they? 
  • What do the stalks and leaves look like?

So what are you thinking now?  Me, I’m thinking that’s an awful lot of questions that we can all answer differently.  I could add even more, but I think you’ve got the picture (yes, pun intended).  I’d be very surprised if any of us have the same picture in our heads. 

Me, I’m sitting on a step.  Am I really?  No, but in my imagination I am.  In reality I’m several states away from where I am imagining I am.  In my imagination I’m sitting right outside my kitchen, on the step to my deck.  The step is made from a dark brown Trex, as is the floor of the deck where my feet are.  The pattern in the flooring runs different directions.  The sun is shining, but there are a few clouds in the sky.  I don’t need my sunglasses.  I didn’t mention the sky.  Did you consider it?  The evergreen on the right is tall with pinecones.  I can just see the top of it over my railing – not the whole evergreen.  Were you picturing Annuals or Perennials?  The flowers I was imagining are actually in a planter, not in the ground.  Honestly, they aren’t even planted yet.  I was just gathering my thoughts about what I want to plant there this year.  Picturing what it might look like.  I’m thinking about 3 different types with different heights and colors.  Probably a tall, spiky type plant in the middle with some pink and yellow around it.  The second evergreen looks shorter but is actually taller.  It’s down in the yard.  My yard slopes quite a bit, so the view from up here is quite a bit different from down there.

So what’s the point of this walk through our imaginations?

  1. We are all influenced by where we come from.  The physical location and environment we grew up and/or currently live in will likely affect the type of door, floor, plants and trees we visualize. 
    • If it has this much affect on such a small activity, imagine how much it might be affecting and influencing how we interact with others.
  2. Visualization is an important skill?  Did you have trouble visualizing?  Was this because you didn’t really try or because it is difficult for you?  If it is indeed difficult, what can you do to help build this skill?  My recommendation – read a fiction book.  Too often we watch a movie, play a video game, or engage in some other passive mental activity.  This has actually had an impact on developing the part of our mind that builds our visualization muscles.  For more information you can click hereto access wikipedia’s Portal to the Mind and Brain. 
    • How might your ability to imagine affect your ability to “see” others viewpoints?
  3. As I described my “perspective” did you change yours or did your picture stay the same?  How might this relate to how we “listen” to others? 
    • As others describe something to us, do we hold tightly to our viewpoint or do we try to make adjustments?

This my reader was but a short activity, a small slice of life.  Each and every day we interact with a myriad of people around us bringing our perspectives, backgrounds, thoughts, imaginations, and experiences with us.  Thousands, possible millions of things affect our unique perspectives.  Trying to understand where someone else comes from, their background and experiences can help you better “see” a situation through their unique viewpoint and perspective.  Digging deeper, asking more questions, and really seeking to build an entire mental image (whether metaphorical or actual) in our mind can help you view things more completely. 

Sometimes it’s important to slow down and really look around you.  To Stop, Look, and Listen.  You might be surprised.  Me, I’m going to stop a moment to enjoy some sunshine on my face in my imagination.  Later today I’m going to find some time to enjoy the real thing – I am after all in the “Sunshine State” of Florida at the moment.  As the old John Denver song says, “sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.”  It also provides some much needed Vitamin D.  I don’t want to be deficient.

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes