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

February 26, 2014

Noticing What’s Right

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 10:06 am

My mother was a perfectionist, and as such, my brother and I were constantly subjected to her observations of what was wrong with us. Whether it was a curl out of place or a pants leg too long, a public behavior that was unseemly or an unwanted comment at the dinner table, it seemed that we were simply flawed beyond repair. If you’ve grown up with such a parent, live with a partner or a boss like this, you know how this feels. And chances are, this behavior may well be cascading through you to others. It’s often tough to see ourselves doing it. We can justify it by claiming that we “want the best out of others,” or some other lame excuse for simply being over critical. The real truth is that it’s easier to look for what’s wrong around us than what’s right.

Looking to find what’s wrong sets up expectations for discomfort and blame. Kids, friends, family members, coworkers find us hard to be around when our critical eye lasers over them, searching for flaws. AHA! There, see it? You need to fix that! We turn in a paper that took us three weeks to complete. Our best work. The boss picks it up and in seconds takes out the red pen and starts to pick it apart. Not a word about how long we’ve been at it, nothing. We’re deflated, defeated. We can often feel like, what’s the point?

In personal relationships it’s the same thing. After the glow has worn off a marriage, we come home to a litany of household issues. Perhaps we walk in the door and bypass our husband who has, for once, dressed up for us after taking care of the kids and the house and making sure the place is in perfect shape. We complain about the day. We find things to nitpick about the kitchen. We don’t notice anything he’s done to make the house look great for us. How do you think he feels? Defeated. Deflated. We miss the candles, the flowers on the table.  All we do is complain.

We’d all love for people to do things for us- and maybe they already do. But do we notice? By noticing what people do right, complimenting those things, small to large, we highlight what’s good in others. What they’re proud of, what they did well. Their kindnesses. their goodness. We’re full of flaws and failings and things we’re not very proud of, and who needs to be reminded of those?
We already aware of them. But we do need to be noticed doing things right.

When you take the time to notice what’s right, people shine. Bloom. Glow. Smile. Their confidence builds. Be it a kid, a coworker, a granddad, a neighbor, man on the street, a lover. The most delightful part of this is that when you do this, it graces you, too. It’s a two way street. This is nutritious WordFood of the highest order, the kind that brings us together.

Save the criticisms, say the compliments. You’ll find yourself in the habit of finding what’s right all around you in no time.

February 4, 2013

WordFood in Any Language

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 4:12 pm

Sometimes despite our best efforts, we get misunderstood. Suffice it to say that when we travel, this is especially true. I just got back from a month in Costa Rica, where English is widely spoken. That is, until I stepped into a wonderful little textiles shop in La Fortuna, a town that has grown up around the Arenal volcano in the north central part of the country.

Now this town is very small, and it’s mostly a lineup of tourist touts and overpriced restaurants. There are tacky souvenir shops and the occasional Tico place to eat where you can get authentic Costa Rican food. But for the most part it is a purely tourist town, with tourist prices, and you don’t expect to find much else. Then I stumbled into a bit of paradise.

A Guatamalan woman had a shop on the main street that was chock full of the most amazing textiles you could imagine. All the shelves from floor to ceiling were lined with hand embroidered runners, blankets, wall hangings and placemats of the most uproarious colors and designs. I was transported to Ecuador where I had been the previous January, and was blown away by the variations of theme, color and expression. Each was a unique work, a treasure. No matter what I pulled out, I wanted it. And her prices were well below what I had paid in Ecuador, by half again. I was deeply impressed.

This determined, diminuitive woman in indigenous dress walked over to me and I did my best, in halting Spanish, to express to her that I had seen something similar in Ecuador. I was complimentary about her pricing and her work. However, whatever I said wasn’t what she heard. She drew herself up to her full 5′ height and said with great emphasis that her work was authentic, indigenous, and took the pieces out my hand and put them back on the shelf. Then she turned her back to me and sat down.

Any attempt to speak with her after that was met with “no intiendo” – I don’t understand you- and it didn’t matter that I desperately wanted to buy some things from this one of a kind shop. Defeated, I left.

When I returned to my hostel and told my proprietor about what had happened, he laughed. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who received the cold shoulder. Proud and “hard” according to him, this hard scrabble woman made all her lovely things on site, and was deservedly pleased with her results. She would brook no comparisons to anything else anywhere else in the world. And if she decided she didn’t like you, you were out the door. Sale or no sale.

I was sad, of course, for my intent had been to create a connection, pay a compliment and make a purchase. However with a delicate ego involved, the challenges of language are even more difficult. Sometimes our best attempts at what I call Energy Enhancers, or compliments, go awry. I never found a similar store in the rest of the country, and I looked. My travels aren’t over. But this lesson will stick. What I had to look at was whether I was trying to impress her with my knowledge (perhaps) or really trying to pay her a compliment (I was). It was good to look at true intent. I offended her nonetheless, and came home without my souvenir, but with perhaps a larger prize, which was greater humility.  And that is always worth having.

May 25, 2012

Women and WordFood

This week I was in New York City at a huge formal bash. It was a big black tie event put on by the National Minority Supplier Development Council and everyone was dressed to the nines. I had flown in from Denver, where we are pretty casual much of the time, and I was having a lot of fun being surrounded by all these women in flowing gowns and men in their sharp tuxedos.

About halfway through the evening I was working my way through the tables and came across a woman in a particularly stunning dress – it crisscrossed her body and made her look like a million bucks. She was facing away from me, and I touched her arm to get her attention. “You look absolutely amazing in that dress,” I told her. “You’re a complete knockout.” Her face lit up. “I really needed to hear that,” she said. She went on to tell me that she doesn’t hear that kind of thing enough- and that my compliment made her feel really good.

Women can sometimes be a little catty with each other, especially about appearances. “That dress is too tight,” “Her makeup is too theatrical,” comments that tear each other down behind our backs. What we all need from each other is support and love: outright support, acknowledgment face to face. I love to compliment women: on their clothing, their hair, their strong arms, everything about them. What their warm reactions teach me is how hungry we all are for acknowledgement. We want to be seen for how hard we work to be pretty or handsome or to do well.

Those seconds it took to give this lovely woman a kind word made ME feel like a million dollars that night. The gift was to me as much as to her for her graciousness. It’s a constant reminder of how powerful our WordFood can be.

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