“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I’m a big quote person. I can find a quote that suits everything and every situation (Pinterest has the best graphic art quotes). If I find a quote I like, I will daydream all day about it and think about how it might be applicable to whatever I am doing or going through in that moment. Twain, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Angelou, and of course, Parton are among some of the most notable and quotable folks on my list. They all have meaningful things to say that really resonate with me.
This session immediately took me back to sitting in my high school auditorium. We were brought together for an anti-bullying assembly. Sad stories and statistics were presented in the hopes that it would discourage us from being the nasty, mean people that teenagers can sometimes be. Our school resource officer was going through a PowerPoint and landed on a slide with a quote; white lettering on a black background, “Our words hold shelf life.” I wrote it down in my diary that night.
At the time, this quote was used to reiterate the fact that a bully’s words are hurtful and their victim can dwell on that hurt for a long time. However, I think about this quote 15 years later and in the context of my current life on an almost daily basis. Positive and negative, people remember small interactions. Positive and negative, our words have consequences. Not that we need to watch what we say all of time and always be on guard, but if we lead with our good intentions and if we are motivated by our desire for positive change, then our words on the shelf will feel good to ourselves and to others.
Our January session helped us all to learn more about “whys” and the “hows” of effective communication and how we can lead with caring purpose even in stressful situations. In the past, I have struggled to communicate anything negative because I do not want to ruffle feathers. This session taught me, through multiple examples, that it is actually more thoughtful and caring to be honest about the things that are bothering me. In our reflection of Radical Candor, I realized that I sometimes fall into ruinous empathy. In the past month, I’ve been intentional in changing that.
I also really enjoyed our media training with Virginia Farm Bureau. In this session, we were asked to take part in a mock TV interview and answer questions about a current issue facing agriculture. The worst part…..everyone would be watching. I was SO nervous. Once I settled into a groove, the interview went fine. I had researched some information beforehand and when I didn’t know one of the answers I was able to assist the interviewer by giving him the name of someone who could help. In the past, I would have agonized over something like this. I now feel like I can use this practice to become a better advocate for agriculture.
We also had the opportunity to hear from Corrine Gellar, the Public Relations Manager for the Virginia State Police. Her expertise in crisis management and communication made me think more seriously about how I would handle the communication of a major event or even just bad news. It is so important in these situations to be honest, clear, and to have my facts 100% straight before moving forward.
Whether we are talking to a friend, the media, a boss, a family member, or even a stranger, we can use tools from this session to help us communicate effectively, demonstrate compassion, and work to find solutions to the problems we all face. To wrap up my thoughts on this session, I decided I would summarize with a few quotes:
“It is more important to be clear with intentions than it is to have the perfect words. It is okay to speak plainly and in simple language.”
“It is good to be prepared for a critical conversation, but you don’t have to dread or obsess over it.”
“Be honest if you don’t know, be honest if you do know.“
“Care personally and challenge directly.“
“Prioritize roles that identify your personal core and use them to work toward personal growth.”