Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just words

Usually I am pretty distrustful of any new initiative that is passed down from the upper management in our organization. Especially when it is touted as 'good for us'. Especially when it involves the styles of communication. And really, especially when it results in changing the behavior of us lower level lives.

Starting last month--after a kick-off of sorts of this new project--everyone in the organization was to sign up for a two day workshop in learning to communicate authentically. This was after we all found books of this title in our office mailboxes. The enthusiasm of the top dogs was palpable by the rest of us terrified underlings. This could not be good. We couldn't wait to see what the next big trick was to make us all work like a well-oiled instrument.

We were learning to how communicate. With each other. No more would there be hierarchical lines of communication. Everyone was free to talk with anyone else. All employees would be empowered to make decisions on their own.

This was fluff. And we shall see if this is really what transpires. But getting back to the idea of being taught to communicate honestly. We communicate all day long. We communicate ad nauseum and we do it well. Or at least well enough that the receiving parties generally understand what we are trying to say. I thought we knew how to speak effectively anyway.

I hate to say this but on my first day of the workshop, I've learned enough. Enough to possibly change my life. I don't see myself picking up the phone and chatting with the CEO - I don't really see myself using this at all in my work setting. But at home? Wow! I learned today that I am a manipulator. I talk to my family and use guilt and shame to get them to do things for me. Ok - maybe that is too harsh a statement but it does hit close to the truth.

I can hear my defeatist self whining about how tired I am but yet I must do the dishes because they just must be done. I can hear myself trying to invoke guilt by telling my husband of all the work I've done and have yet to do while he sits and watches TV. I actually itemize what I do in hope that he will take pity and fall into action. I use these tactics on my kids. And it works. But do I really want to guilt them into washing the dishes, taking out the dog, cleaning their rooms? Can't I just ask them to do it? Just because it is the right thing to do?

I must say, I'm a bit ashamed of myself. I honestly didn't realize that I blatantly used these methods to coerce my family into doing things. And in less than 2 hours, I learned something new about my old self.

Will the lessons stick? Well it become second nature for me to simply ask for help and not try and force people into doing things for me? I don't know. I hope so.

A torrid love affair

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