Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Usefulness of Flexibility in Communication Strategies

A couple of Sundays back, my friend Steve and I were sitting in LP Field, enjoying watching the Titans playing the Rams, when two young ladies sat down next to me, followed by a young man. At first, I thought they were all friends, as the young man was so chatty, but, within a few moments, I could tell that while the young ladies were close, they had only just met the young man ... and were not interested in getting to know him.

Chattypotumus: (After trashing ex-girlfriend for dumping him) Maybe you two could teach me about girls!

Lady #1: (Staring at football field) Sound of crickets chirping

Lady #2: (Crosses arms and turns away from him.) More chirping.

Chattypotumus: What do you say?

Lady #2: Turns so that she is staring at the side of my face, with her back to the guy.

Lady #1: I don’t know anything.

After disappearing for a few minutes, the young man returns with a few beers.

Chattypotumus: (Extending a beer to each lady) I got you a beer!

Lady #1: I don’t want one.

Lady #2: If I want a beer, I will go get one myself. It’s too early for me …

Chattypotumus then takes off on a riff about his lousy experience with women, especially how mean his ex-girlfriend was, salting each and every sentence with “MF-this” and “MF that.” The more he talked, the more each lady pulled within, staring straight ahead.

It would have been quite entertaining, if it weren’t for the demonstrable discomfort of the ladies. As we left at halftime, I have no idea what happened to Chattypotumus. My guess is that it had something to do with a drink being poured over his head.

What amazed me was how oblivious the man was to the body language that was screaming Leave Us Alone. His ex- probably had to be brutal, as it was the only way to get through his thick skull.

What I would have liked to have said to Chattypotumus is this: If you keep doing what you have always done, you are going to keep getting what you have always gotten. If you want something different from what you always get, you need to do some things differently.

If you have ever gone down in flames during a conversation … Congratulations! Unlike this young man, at least you are aware of the fact that you didn’t achieve your outcome. This is huge, as you won’t change directions if you don’t see you are headed the wrong way. The next thing is learning to see early warning signals, thus, changing directions and escaping the Surface to Air Missile.

What is the outcome of your communication?

Chattypotumus’ outcome was to make friends with two young ladies.

What is your strategy for achieving the outcome?

Chattypotumus’ strategy was to believe and, therefore, to behave as if these two ladies were waiting with breathless anticipation to be gathered into the glory that was his world.


Noticing what is working and not working, you begin changing your strategy until you see/hear/feel that you are back on track.

In a New York minute it was clear that his strategy was taking him in the opposite direction. What did he do? Doubled-down, going backwards even faster.

What could he have done? Shut up. Regroup. Gather his thoughts. LISTEN. Make a few innocuous comments about the game, paying attention to what interests and disinterests the ladies. Ask questions --where are you from? where do you work? – all the while seeking, to some degree, to create an atmosphere of trust. After all, you aren't going anywhere if you don't have rapport.

Remember: if you see you aren’t going in the direction of the intended outcome of your communication, CHANGE STRATEGIES!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Luke 2

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Source of Self-Acceptance

I gave up on self-acceptance, years ago. Yup, forget that impossible dream. Today, it is more a case of seeking to loathe myself less than I did yesterday. Okay. I jest. But there are days …

Anyone with even a remote degree of self-awareness struggles, from time to time, with self-acceptance. After all, you know your weaknesses, foibles, issues, and failures better than anyone else. How in the world are you suppose to accept yourself knowing what you know, eh? And if you are exposed to the constant Chinese water torture of advertisers telling you that your skin, teethe, body-type, hair, cuticles, weight and innards are all screwed up and, Lucky For You, you can be healed for 3 monthly payments of only 29.99, it’s a wonder more people haven’t opted for checking out how things are in the afterlife.

So, how do I go about affirming my Self, accepting my Self? Do I need to recite, mantra-like, “You are wonderful … you are a creation of God … you are fearfully and wonderfully made”? Well, that may help a tad but, for many of us, all that happens in this case is we hear another voice saying, “Liar … you are a piece of excrement and everyone knows it.” Actually, I think this is where so many people take off on a Long and Winding Road that leads to nowhere. I wonder if you can only accept your Self after another has first accepted you?

Pope Benedict XVI puts it this way:

The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist … If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI

The love of another—most importantly one’s parents—but, also, of friends and significant others goes along ways toward helping us accept ourselves. What an amazing gift it is for an individual to see you in all of your glory and garbage and (still) say, “It is good that you exist. I affirm you, I appreciate you … I love you with my entire being.” Does anything touch us, move us, inspire us, or humble us as deeply as this does?

Think of those people who have never experienced such love. The black hole that resides in their soul, because of the lack of affirming love, keeps them from loving others as they could, keeps them from trusting others, restricts their ability to be vulnerable to others. When we encounter people who are hard hearted, calculating and manipulative what we need to do is see beyond the exterior into the soul that needs to be touched by affirming love. Sure, deal wisely with their behavior, but through it all, wherever possible, extend the power of love.

And what of those who have had such love and then lost it? What if the parent chooses to no longer say, “It is good that you exist. I affirm you, I appreciate you … I love you with my entire being”? What if the friend or significant other who saw you and loved you turns and walks away? As great as the gift was, the wounds caused by the loss can be psychologically crippling. Which leads me to this ...

What we are celebrating during the Christmas season is God’s affirming love Incarnated in his son, Jesus. This is the only sure foundation for self-acceptance. This is the Love we want to allow into our souls. This is the Love that leaves us saying to ourselves, “If God is for me, who can be against me? Whatever wounds I experience in this life, whatever rejections, whatever pains I suffer, none of it can overwhelm or conquer the infinite and inexorable Love of God.” Talk about instant Self-Acceptance!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Early Birthday Treat

Me and my friend Steve, standing
out in front of one of my favorite
Nashville Hotels, The Hermitage.

Obviously we are off to see
the Titans -- playing the Rams.

Steve let me wear his
Chris Johnson jersey, whom I
had never seen play before today.
Mr Johnson goes from zero
to lightening fast in less than
a second. I swear the guy
has some wort of warp drive.

Not bad seats, eh?

Where else but the in the South
can you eat a Turkey Leg at
a football game?

I know: photos from phone
kindasuck but it was a
great day of fun.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It was a chilly 35 degrees yesterday morning
when I walked to the train station up
from my apartment and off to airport,
headed to San Diego.
I love the cold and was quite
ticked off when I heard I was headed
away from a predicted snow
into sunny climes!

Eight hours later I was pulling up to
the Glorietta Bay Inn and stepping out
into 65 degrees with not a cloud in
the sky. O well, it is beautiful here.

Am here for Board Meeting of
Children's Hunger Relief Fund.

Walked across the street to the famous
Hotel del Coronado and
walked along the beach.

View from my deck.

The Powers That Be at the Coronado
decided to dig up one of its beautiful gardens
and put in an ice stating rink.

Christmas Tree in lobby of
our Hotel.

Moon rising above our hotel.
(All photos taken
with my iPhone)

It is now Saturday morning,
and I see that Atlanta did not
have any snow. Good. I can
stay focused on our meetings
rather than being ticked off
about missing out on my
favorite weather patterns.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Faith is Not a Talisman

As usual, I began the day with sipping on a huge mug of espresso and watching ESPN. When I turned the TV on an interview was already in progress. It was with an 18 year-old young man from the US playing professional basketball for an Israeli team. Not sure what happened: maybe he couldn’t get into a college in the US or he figured he wasn’t going to learn anything anyway so why not go gain some experience playing as a pro. I dunno. Anyway—

The interviewer asked the young man if, living in Israel, he ever felt anxious about his security. No, he replied. Why? Because, he said, I am walking where Jesus walked.

Not any safer place to be.

No siree.

In all respect to the young man’s devotion, I wonder if it has occurred to him that Jesus was crucified in Israel. And what about all those martyred Apostles? Evidently God’s plans don’t always include health, wealth and Michael Jordan-esque stats, eh?

Faith is not a talisman. Faith is not about trusting that I will not get hurt or whatever. Faith is about trusting in God for his best … knowing that sometimes what's best is for me to “fall” or “fail.”

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009