A number of years ago, one of my sons tried out for the junior high basketball team. Unfortunately, he did not make the team. He returned home being even more deflated because he was offered a position as the team manager, a position he turned down. Rather than sulk and engage in self-pity, he went to work. He devised a plan to improve his skills, so that he could make the team as a sophomore.
When I ask folks why they refuse to talk about what matters most, the most frequently offered response is, “I don’t know how to do it.” Whatever your response may be, the consequences are always the same, poor results. Such thinking usually results in what I call counterfeit conversation or “fake talk.”
Sometimes I just can’t pass up a good story. Here is one that my financial planner told me this week. It seems that he was out to lunch with one of his clients. While eating, his client was approached by a police officer who asked him to identify himself. The client gave his name, and then the officer passed him a set of papers. The client chuckled and said, “This is obviously a joke given that it is my 50th birthday tomorrow?” The officer replied, “No sir, I am an officer of the law,
Everyone has had to deal with a difficult challenge, the poor performance of others, or something that didn’t go as planned. When such a situation occurs, we may begin to experience an emotional reaction.
As I have traveled around the country speaking, I have frequently been asked, “Can you give us some examples of ‘fake talk’? We’re not sure exactly what that means.” You’ll remember that fake talk is any conversation that doesn’t achieve the results that you want.
Having traveled and spoken a lot this year, it is always interesting to see what learning lessons will emerge from the people that I address. I recently conducted a session with a large group with one person who seemed to be more interested in challenging me than in listening and learning about something that she hadn’t heard before. She seemed bent on contesting a lot of what I was saying with a constant barrage of, “Yeah, buts.”
Not long ago I was reflecting on a conversation that I had with my spouse. I thought that I had not been a very good listener in a conversation that we had about an hour earlier. Knowing that she was in the next room, I called out to her, “Stephanie, I was thinking about that conversation we just had, and I was thinking I need to apologize for not listening or giving you my full attention when you were talking. Will you forgive me?” She responded, “For which time?”
Years ago I started to notice that the way I spoke to my children did not produce the desired results. I remember one day when my oldest brought home a B- in math, and I said something like, “You got a B- in math? What happened?” Immediately my spouse responded with, “Some kind of a communication expert you are!”
Earlier in the year I spent two days working with and teaching a number individuals helping them improve their ability to hold difficult conversations. After the session one of the organization’s directors who stopped by to observe said, “This is all well and good, but you know, you can’t teach a pig to sing!”
My uncle Mel passed away after living a wonderful life. He was one of those brave souls who fought in World War II and was lucky to make it home. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was a member of 87th Infantry Division that came up from the south on the west side of Bastogne.