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

July 9, 2012

WordFood in our Messaging

The wonderful thing about technology is that it’s instantaneous. The terrible thing about technology is that it’s instantaneous.

Have you ever received an email, a text, a tweet or a voicemail that set you off? And then you fired off an angry response, hit the Send button and, moments later, realized what you’d done and felt instant remorse?

That message was already off in the ether, bouncing around like an angry bowling ball, doing its damage. We can’t take it back. And it’s part of our permanent legacy.


A few weeks ago I received an email in my inbox from a competitor announcing a webinar they were doing for a client that I had been working on for a long time. I had a lot of feelings about that email, and I whipped off a note to my client that said, in effect, glad to see you’re working with this supplier, they’re good people. However, my bruised ego slipped in a sentence that clearly let it be known I wasn’t happy about not being chosen as their supplier.

A few minutes later I got a terse email from my client that said they weren’t, in fact using this supplier and that the webinar was free. Uh-oh. My client was clearly in the office and I made a call right away.

It turned out to be a good idea. She was writing me an angry response. She was insulted and offended by my email, and I had some serious cleaning up to do. I had to apologize for my tone and my poor WordFood. It took some explaining but we got through it. Now whether I’ve lost this multi-billion dollar client because of a bone-headed stunt on my part remains to be seen. The sad part about this is that this client has been one of my biggest supporters, and with one badly worded email I hurt our relationship- and it happens just that fast.

In our fast-paced, do it now world where we so often feel compelled to respond immediately to everything that we receive on our devices, it becomes easier and easier to make this kind of mistake. Our emotions are swift as lightning and they inform what we write. If we’re whipping out a text while we’re walking down the street we’re not likely to be thinking carefully about content and impact. An email isn’t going to be saved to be rewritten later before it’s sent out, like mine should have been. We end up sending out toxic WordFood without realizing it and it can have devastating effects personally and professionally.

If there is a remedy to this, it’s to install an internal regulator or questioning system that automatically puts forth the challenge “How would I feel if I got this message?” Some kind of discipline that asks us to take a breath before we overreact to something we’ve received. In the moment, we may be feeling righteous, but with time and information that indignation often goes away.

Before you fire off an angry response, keep in mind a few key things:

  • chances are you may not know the whole story
  • without context it’s easy to read emotions into the words that may be inaccurate
  • re-reading the same message an hour later may give you an entirely different viewpoint
  • doing a little research could provide you with everything you need to know the whole picture

My email may have simply cost me some embarrassment, and it was a good lesson in keeping my ego in check and being sensitive to my client. The more sophisticated our devices become, the swifter the communications, the more vigilant we need to be in reining in our lightning fast emotional responses to the messages we receive.

June 22, 2012

WordFood in any Language

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 8:28 am

While at a women’s business conference this week I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely Chinese woman and her associate. The woman, who runs a manufacturing firm, spoke no English. Her associate translated for her. They had come to listen to me present a seminar on how to sell to major corporations in America.

After the program, these two lovely women approached me again.The older woman was animated and excited. She spoke rapidly and her face was glowing. Her associated translated for her how pleased she was about the program and how grateful she was for the information.

As I watched her face and listened to her speak I realized that I hardly needed the translation. Her warmth, enthusiasm, and generous nature made her message very clear. It was helpful to know precisely what she was saying, but I understood her perfectly.

I am sure she also understood my response as I expressed my gratitude for her kind words and that I was honored to have her in my class. She wants to bring back many more Chinese women to America for similar training and it would be wonderful to have them. With gestures that made her laugh I expressed my own enthusiasm for this idea.

We bowed deeply to each other when we ended the conversation and I was reminded of how much graciousness, warmth, and courtesy we communicate without words. Her open face and body language expressed so much and her tone of voice was so kind that her meaning was very clear.

Our words are only a small part of what we communicate, with body language and tone of voice being much more powerful delivery systems for our message. This lovely woman hardly needed a translator. I got it. And she understood perfectly how felt.

Whether we are world travelers or wandering down the hallway to breakfast with our family, it helps to remember that what’s on our face, in our tone and in our gestures conveys a big part of our message. Consistency is important and powerful when you want to be compelling, and understood, in any language.

June 5, 2012

WordFood Character Fiber

Some of the best sources of feedback we have come from our critics, and for those of us who pay people to give us this guidance, this can be very humbling.

Last year I wrote my third book, a big fat tome that I called “Exchange.” I whipped it out in a few months, very much in love with my own verbosity and eloquence, sure that this was going to be a world changer. My editor loved it too. I invested thousands in the editing and proudly handed it over to my coach, Orvel Ray Wilson.

He struggled through the first few chapters and called it a piece of crap. “Arch, arrogant, finger pointing and many more choice words,” he said. “It’s beneath you. You can do much better.”

I was deeply hurt and very offended. Or I should say, my ego was wounded. How dare he blast my masterpiece?

The truth is, he was right. I had gotten so swept away by my topic that I had failed to check in with him as I normally did to make sure my feet were square on the ground. They weren’t. Part of me knew it and the other part of me sulked.

I am regularly humbled by people smarter than I am. I’ve been wise enough to hire a few of those people to coach me. I’m not always smart enough to keep them close to my creative process so that I don’t give birth to a Frankenstein monster.

Those who offer us critiques (and possibly damage our oh-so-delicate egos) give us a chance to rethink, redirect and reconsider. As I take on the considerable task of rewriting Exchange to make it the humble, gracious book it was intended to be, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have a book coach who will tell me that what I write is junk. It is hard to hear but it is the simple truth. What he is entrusting me with is the courage to go back and do what he knows I am capable of doing: a much better job.

WordFood talks about Character Fiber, one of the key kinds of WordFood that we need from those we love every day. This is what gets us up and over the obstacles in work and life. Sometimes it can be bumpy for our self image, but those who support us and believe in us deliver the goods, and aren’t afraid to tell us the truth.

Our contributions in life demand it. Our little egos will recover. Here’s to those who provide us with the WordFood to do our best.

Powered by WordPress