WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

September 25, 2012

The BallPark Diet

We all know someone who talks about one thing and one thing only. Who focuses on sports or technology, intentionally talks over our heads to let us know how smart they are (and how dumb we are). Or someone who absolutely loves shopping and shoes and can’t talk about much of anything else. While we might tolerate this, like the folks at the office who put up with March Madness every year, it gets old after a while. I call this the BallPark Diet. People who are a one-trick pony, who have a comfort zone and like to stay in a lane.

Sometimes they do this because it’s a passion of theirs. Perhaps it’s their hobby, like collecting trains or skydiving. For other people it’s because they are insecure in other areas of their lives and this is how they express their confidence by talking about the one thing they do know a lot about. Either way, it’s a narrow focus. It limits their ability to relate to the larger world, and in some cases, it annoys those who want to engage them.

When faced with these folks you can try several strategies. You can learn their language, and join in. You can stay on the fringe of the conversation and invite them to join you and talk about something that is similar but not exactly the same, and ask their opinion, thereby expanding their horizon. You can challenge their viewpoint and get them a little riled up and thinking. Ask their opinion and let them be the expert, but then guide them subtly to other areas of conversation.

However it might work to your advantage. I had a client  who worked for a large company in Illinois. They were having an event and needed a speaker. For the longest time I couldn’t get his attention about using me for his event. Then on one half hour conference call, instead of talking about my speaking program I started out by talking about Jay Culter, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher of the Bears. We spent twenty of our thirty minutes talking football. The last ten minutes he couldn’t do enough to help me speak for him.

It helps to find out what someone’s BallPark Diet is and to do your research. You can use it to your advantage.

September 17, 2012

Send it Back to the Chef With Kindness

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 9:31 am

You know how it feels when someone feeds you toxic WordFood. It’s tempting to hurl it right back, to be offended, to be hurt. However, there are other choices in our toolbox when someone is “in their stuff” and out of sorts.

We may have said or done something offensive without realizing it. In our increasingly diverse culture, this is easier to do. Sometimes no matter our best intentions, we may say something that years ago may have been innocent but in today’s climate is an insult.

They’re having a bad day, coming in from a tough family situation, walked out of a previous argument. You have no idea about someone else’s emotional state unless it’s written on their face and body language- and it often is- but not always.

So what can we do when we get a bad reaction, when someone insults or hurts us with toxic WordFood?

We can send it back to the “chef” with kindness, by saying “I’m sure you didn’t mean to say it that way. Perhaps what you’re trying to say is…” or “Thanks for letting me know your feelings. How can we now work together?”
By not taking things personally, you rise above the situation, and let the person keep their dignity. They’ll appreciate your graciousness.

Or, internally “spit it out.” If you’re on the receiving end of insults, you have to let this information and ugliness go through you, not into you. Understand that for whatever reason, the other person is in pain, and is inflicting it on you. As hard as it may be to not take insults personally, the higher road requires that you offer compassion. You are all right with you- it’s the other person who’s got a problem. This takes courage on your part. In the end, if you’re willing to let them work out their anger and frustration without engaging, you will be whole. They might or might not be apologetic. But you didn’t buy into the garbage they were feeding you.

Every one of us is subject to anger and frustration. In those moments we may fire off toxic WordFood to those around us that we regret. If we’re lucky, our friends, coworkers and loved ones will keep in mind our momentary madness. We all do it, and by offering this forgiveness to others, we can do it for ourselves.

September 11, 2012

WordFood for our Competitors

It’s football season again, and for those of us who love gridiron the preseason games have been on for weeks already. Those of us here in Denver have been particularly excited because we were able to secure Peyton Manning in the off season, and he’s been a source of excitement for us as we’ve approached opening day. While Tebow supporters, and I was among them, were sad to see the exciting young man go to the Jets, we were very enthusiastic to see the experienced four-time MVP Manning come to the Broncos and give our franchise hope for the playoffs.

What characterizes both of these players, however, is how they treat their teammates. Both of them are great leaders on and off the field. Tebow is unabashed about his faith, and supportive of everyone around him. He is loved by his teammates. He has nothing but good things to say about his competitors, helps them up off the ground and gives them encouraging words.

A little known fact about Manning is that he writes a warm letter to retiring players when they leave the NFL, thanking them for being a competitor. His courtesy and respect for those he plays against make him the consummate sportsman.

On Sunday, the Broncos won the game against the Steelers in the opening salvo. Manning immediately sought out Ben Rothlisberger, the opposing quarterback. As they hugged and shook hands, Manning said, “You were amazing on third downs tonight.”
In a game where trash talk and gang posturing has become the norm, men like Manning and Tebow continue to keep the standard high. They like and respect their opponents, and speak to them with regard. Their example is a lesson to us all.

September 4, 2012

Feeding the Family WordFood

I have a friend who has a brother who got involved with a survivalist movement a few years back. His politics are radical to say the least. He has collected a basement full of guns and ammunition, and he gives considerable funds that he can hardly afford to movements that support far right wing activities based on fear and hate.  Conversations are challenging, political discussions impossible. Yet talk they do, their connection by blood immutable, their bond unbreakable, and my friend’s commitment to his brother unshakable despite the differences.

In a divisive election year, feelings are high. In close families, family members get in terrible arguments over jobs or social programs, or they can’t agree over a candidate. Or maybe there are divisions over religious choices. No matter who we are, we all have relatives we deem either unfit or unworthy or black sheep or somehow no longer acceptable. Yet, they’re still family.

In the confines of families we can do our worst damage, yet that is where we can also do our greatest good, learn our most important lessons, and draw our greatest courage, if we choose. There is nothing more important than our blood connection, and learning to accept, forgive, support and love those we gave birth to, grew up with and must lay claim to as family. Even if that means we must ultimately distance ourselves from those who will self destruct, they still deserve our love. Compassion is a powerful thing.

Nothing is so painful as a sudden death which deprives you of the chance to say “I’m sorry or Please forgive me.”  Pride is a terrible price to pay when someone is gone, and you realize that a simple gesture could have healed a rift. 

Keep in mind that the imagination is a busy actor and it loves to fill silence with its own version of what someone else feels or thinks about us. And it is a terrible liar most of the time. The truth is that we cannot possibly know what another person thinks or feels about us. If there is a family rift, be the first one to heal it.

In my family, I have a cousin who has finally healed a 16-year long silence with her big brother. After years of angry stories about each other, they are talking, warmly, and they are a family again. Nothing can replace family.

What kind, healing WordFood do you need to say to a family member to rebuild a connection? Heal a wound? Ask for forgiveness? Even if you’re for Obama and they’re for Romney, it makes no difference. Love trumps politics. Love trumps everything.

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