Thursday, July 31, 2008

Words to Live By

As I was growing up, my parents offered few words/phrases/mantras to live by. Telling the truth, cleaning your plate, honoring your grandparents, valuing your family; those were values that were taken for granted and need not be spoken. Ah, but there were other lessons to learn, less obvious to some parents but not mine. Over the coming weeks I will examine each of them, what the words meant to them, how I interpreted these pearls of wisdom and how my own communication patterns emerged as a result.
  • You can do anything for three months.
  • Suffer for beauty.
  • Never say you can’t do something. Say yes and then work like crazy to make it true.
  • Earn your place at the table.
  • If you aren’t going to show up big don’t show up at all.
  • Buy American.
  • In every relationship somebody has to be the hero.
  • If you can’t laugh about it, god damn it, then you are in for one helluva long life.
  • What do you want to eat?

Words of wisdom and how they affect our communication for years to come. Don't be shy, tell me what pearls of wisdom made an impact on your communication style?

11 comments:

Katherine James said...

"Suck in your stomach and your clothes will look better."
Wait...no...that was one of the negative ones growing up.
"Don't kill your brother. He's the only brother I'm going to make you."
Wait...no...that was one of the ones I passed on to my children that they now laugh hysterically about.
"Well begun is half done" by the philosopher Horace. I spent my whole life thinking what he meant was "so how come you haven't finished, you slacker!" instead of "Good for you -- you started -- the hardest part to the finish line!" I just figured this out last week.

Rebecca said...

My mom's recurring response to any sort of complaint was "Such is life". Simple, but it sure took the fun out of complaining when we knew that would be her reply!

My dad always taught my sister and me to be independant and not to take any crap from a man. Now that we are 30 and 27 and forever single he thinks he took that lesson a little too far!

Urban Panther said...

Similar to katherine's 'suck in your gut', 'stand up straight!'. Actually, this had a great impact, not only for good posture, but because standing up straight and tall gives me personal power and confidence. I am only 5'3", but people are always surprised when I tell them that. "Really? You seem so much taller!" Haha, larger than life, that's me *smile*. The other one, that both my parents' said a lot (the posture one was my mother, no surprise) was 'everyone has their own perspective'. This taught me to see all sides of the story, and I think this has helped make me a very good listener.

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Theresa,

What a brilliant idea. I love all of your sayings - the ones you grew up with as well as yours.

My favorite is "let it go". I hate when people go on, and on, and on about some mundane thing that happened to them or what someone said. Life's too short. I also like Nike's "just do it". Short, sweet and to the point.

Urbane Lion said...

Here are some of my favorites:

- The present moment will never be back
- I would rather die with remorse than regrets
- If you're not worth a laugh, you ain't worth much
- Choose your wars

They've done me right so far!

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Katherine -
"Suck in your stomach and your clothes will look better." It is true. You may not like it, but it shows you have energy and people are drawn to energy. Not to mention the 5 lbs thinner thing.

"Don't kill your brother. He's the only brother I'm going to make you." This is not exactly communication technique but it is good advice nonetheless.

"Well begun is half done."
Without commenting on the negative vs the positive use by the philosopher, this is a huge communication no no. That is to assume because you started something that will carry you. Often times in meetings when asked to report on the status of a project you will hear a person say something like, I am off to a good start or I am working on it. Neither of these are status reports. What your boss/client wants to hear is when will it be done!

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Rebecca -
My mom's recurring response to any sort of complaint was "Such is life". Mom was trying to normalize the event. A good technique also to use when trying to reduce axiety - it makes whatever is going on seem like a common occurance.

And for your dad's lessons - A single woman of 27 or 30 communicates strength, choice, independence and good sense. Dad was right.

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Urban Panther - I wish tall people would stand up like short people. I want to shove every one of them up against a wall, put a book on their heads and give them a posture lesson - men and women alike.

Re: all sides of the story. Wow, in my house there was only one perspective. I didn't start listening until I was at least 40. Now my parents say to me, 'you think you know everything'. Duh, where do they think I got that attitude? I was raised by the poster child (yes, daddy, I mean you) for the world is black and white. No grey areas at my house. While I may have been endowed with passion, you surely rocked fewer boats following your mom's advice.

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Barbara - Glad you like the idea. Both "let it go" and "just do it" are mantras to live by. Nike has done wonders with those three simple words!

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Urbane Lion -
"The present moment will never be back."

This is some of the best advice I give to my clients. Communicate all you can now. When a presenter says "I will get to that in a moment" it sets off buzzers in my head that remind me I want to know right now. If he had said nothing, I would let the moment pass. As far as in life this advice works for the good moments and the ones you think are intolerable. This too shall pass is comforting and regrettable all at once.

Theresa Zagnoli said...

Urbane Lion -
"The present moment will never be back."

This is some of the best advice I give to my clients. Communicate all you can now. When a presenter says "I will get to that in a moment" it sets off buzzers in my head that remind me I want to know right now. If he had said nothing, I would let the moment pass. As far as in life this advice works for the good moments and the ones you think are intolerable. This too shall pass is comforting and regrettable all at once.