Uncategorized, women and leadership

Communication: Parent-Child-Adult

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

 

How we communicate with others often defines our relationships with them. A few words may be all we get to set the stage for the future connections we have or don’t get to have with them. I have been thinking about that a lot recently and my thoughts are not just about adults, but also about children and youth who are just learning how to treat others. This is where my monkey mind has led me:

Last year ago I became aware of Molly Barker, a social entrepreneur who founded the successful international organization Girls on the Run and then left it to start The Red Boot Coalition.

She had written Girls Lit from Within about ten years ago and I wanted to use it in a life skills mentoring program I and some other women are involved in for middle school girls. The little book is so powerful because it is told from her viewpoint as a girl. The communication is somewhat childlike in parts. The message is about getting out of the girl box. Her storytelling allows the reader, even adults, to be in that girl mindset and see the world from a non-adult perspective. The girls and adults loved it. I learned a lot too.

About two years ago Molly decided to create an organization which revolves around what I call civil dialog and active listening done in a manner which is respectful of all involved. She is more eloquent in her description and I encourage you to go to the link for more details. The Red Boot Coalition is simply teaching and re-teaching us the process of communication; not telling us how to think.

Over the last year I have also found myself constantly referring back to a concept I learned in a leadership program which helps me better understand how to navigate these tricky times for communication. Today everyone seems to have an opinion which they feel free to offer without much consideration of how the listener might react. There is clearly an absence of communication by people who “begin with the end in mind” as taught by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The concept is called  transactional analysis and involves three levels of communication. The words seem complicated but the concept is really simple. A short overview is available by clicking here. It gives the basics. How I have adapted the components to be understandable to me is explained below.

  1. Child. When children communicate they often have limited or no filters. They haven’t evolved physically or mentally enough to have learned them yet . Sometimes children communicate with tantrums, withdrawing, being silly, crying and not doing what they are told. They rely on parents or parent figures to teach them how to manage their behavior and communications.
  2. Parent. A parent has some sort of authorized authority over someone. Maybe it is her child or perhaps she is the “boss” at work.  Parents teach their children, help them modify their communications; teach then what is appropriate based on their age and the audience they are communicating with. Parents can be very high directing when needed, especially in a life threatening or emergency. Parent mode is common with those in positions of authority. Sometimes turning parent off is hard for those who are doing it in their work and home every day.
  3. Adult. Adult communication is level, respectful, equal, open, and accepting. Neither party has any control over the other. Adult communication is highly negotiated with concern for the feelings, opinions of all parties and the outcomes are mutually agreed upon.   It is also a different skill and many of us are never taught about true adult communication or it is something we learn later in life. For me, going into a career with a strong sales component where everything is negotiated became my first step in communicating in a more adult style.

My work in financial literacy for girls and women requires me to just listen to what is on our/their minds. Not everyone I meet operates from my background, belief system, or has had my life experiences. So of course we are not always going to agree on everything—or maybe anything. However, if we consciously evaluate what communication style is appropriate for the situation; civil dialog is pretty amazing and possible. More next time!

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Christianity, Mentoring, Risk Taking, Uncategorized, women and leadership, Young Women

September 11, 2015

 

This blog is my guilty pleasure.  It allows me to share my thoughts in hope that someone else will find some value or learn something along the way.  I post when something really special sticks in my consciousness and it seems worth sharing.

I have been waiting for God to inspire me with meaningful words on this September 11th. As an American, I do what most of us do when we pause to remember September 11, 2001. I think about where I was when I heard, how I felt, how fear settled over me, and then hope and optimism came in the unexpected kindness we extended to each other in our wounded country. Those words come easily.

The ones that are harder to summon have to do with the passing of Rev. Dr. Marti Zimmerman on September 11, 2011. It seems trite and overdone to mention how much all of us miss her energy, presence, faithful spirit, and sense of adventure.  It is much more than just those qualities.

One of her daughters posted a video today of Marti’s life.  She mentioned missing her mom and wishing she could have conversations with her, but still hears her mom’s voice telling her things and giving an opinion. The woman had quite a few opinions and some of us had a lot to learn. She would always tell us that God has a sense of humor.  That was a new idea to me.

She would remind us that children and youth are God’s gift for the future and that we need to give them a voice. The local church she pastored in Colorado took the business of children and youth very seriously. This is not always the case in many churches because children take time and energy and don’t usually contribute much financially.  Her patience ran thin with people who were too tired or busy to go to church, even her children.

Consumerism and affluenza became the targets of her teachings and Christian education. Expensive technology, storage units where people pay to store stuff, and the lack of affordable housing in the affluent area near the church became targets of her preaching.

Marti would mention how her children would get annoyed at her constant visiting and endless conversations when they were ready to go home and leave the whole church thing for an afternoon. With some sympathy, she would acknowledge that being a PK2 child (Marti and her husband were a pastoral team) had some added challenges.

Marti became a very educated and accomplished  senior pastor, earning a Doctorate of Ministry from a prestigious university in Denver.  She was invited to speak throughout the country and became also became widely known among the women leadership of the connectional church.  Impressive credentials, but she didn’t let it get in the way of being real. One night at a large gathering in the home of some of the church’s members someone asked her the traditional and polite what do you do question.  I waited for the big long educated and wise answer that some Dr. pastors deliver with an attitude. It never came. She smiled, looked around the kitchen, laughed a little, grabbed an appetizer and said “I’m a preacher.”  This seemed to me to be an understatement. I thought to myself, really?  Anyone can call themselves a preacher.  She knew who she was and whose she was.

When we would do financial seminars based on her work, she would lead off by saying “We’re all sinners here.” Not the intro I was going for as a facilitator. Truthfully, it took time for me to wrap my financial advisor mind around that one. I now know that she was right. We all can do better.

This Sunday I will be meeting with someone at my  church  in Texas to begin using the First You Dream workbook based on Marti’s sermons. Marti has left many legacies to those of us, including this work. Her teachings are with us. For me, they never leave.  My friend Emily and I talk about them and I have a stack on my shelf, just waiting for God to send some more people our way. I had to re-enter all of Marti’s sermons when we created the book since her computer had seriously crashed.  I’m pretty familiar with what they say.

September 11th. A day of remembering for many different reasons.

I’m leaving you with Marti’s praying hands and her uplifted ones as she preached. They are created in a cartoon format.  As long as something would send the right message and teach others about Jesus and God’s love, she was up for just about anything.

 martipreachingmartihands