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 17, 2013

WordFood for the Senate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 7:18 pm

Yesterday on a drive around the southern Denver beltway I heard a story about a young man who was vilified for winning a college election. It wasn’t that he won, it was how he won. Seems that he rigged it in a rather thrilling spyware kind of way, stole some 750 student passwords, and gave himself about additional 630 votes in an election he had already won. Happily, he was caught, denuded of his title and is now paying the price. Pardon my sarcasm here, but this young man is already well on his way to a fine career in politics.

Later in the day, Majority Leader Harry Reid was crowing, as were several other leaders in the Senate about this big breakthrough that had happened around the stalled Presidential appointments (some for two  years and counting). To shorten what he said but to use his words, “we actually sat down and talked TO each other instead of AT each other.” Today I heard more senators making considerable noise about this supposedly stupendous breakthrough. Imagine. Elected officials gathering in a room to actually listen to one other. Hear what others have to say instead of following their leadership like blind and deaf sheep. Imagine.

The very idea that these elected officials would be speaking of the idea of sequestering themselves away in a private room to learn to speak and actually listen to each other civilly as a huge breakthrough in Congressional history seems to me a very sad statement about the Senate, and about politics in general. But then we all knew that anyway. Yet we will still vote for our guy or gal to go up to the Hill to teach’em a thing or two (read make them come around to OUR way of thinking which of course is Right and True and the American Way). And we get frustrated when shouting at the other side and not listening simply goes nowhere.

Funny. It doesn’t work in our marriages, friendships, at work. Why should it work in Congress? Or for that matter in Egpyt? That’s going well right now, isn’t it?

While the Senate seems to be awakening to the quaint notion that listening graciously is one way to create collaboration and partnerships, this is a great time to think about who we elect. We feed Congress those officials with our votes. The WordFood of courtesy,  respect and regard have been missing of late. The vitriol of hateful election campaigns is a direct result of what they think will work with us, the voting public. If we want them to be more civil, let’s all be more civil, kind, gracious. And vote with our feet. Tweets, emails, letters, about the WordFood example we want.

Perhaps we’ll get a law or two passed. Some we may like, some we may not, but that’s a democracy. A civil, gracious democracy.

Hey, we put ‘em there. And we can bring them back when they act like bullies.

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.

August 20, 2012

When Our Parts are Speaking WordFood

All of us are made up of personalities, or “parts,” and they show up in different circumstances. Psychology today recognizes that this isn’t multiple personality syndrome at all, but the way we all react differently in different situations, and how we may be swept away by an emotion or state of mind.

For example, let’s say you’re a grandparent and the kids are bringing over your two year old cherubs for an afternoon visit. Unfortunately, you and your husband have gotten into a rip roaring argument about the car accident you got into the the day before. There you are in the living room screaming at each other, faces contorted and red, gesticulating, looking like the devil incarnate, when the darling kids hurtle in the door. “Grammy! Grammy!” Instantly you transform into angelic Grammy and sweep them into your arms, your face is transformed, all anger forgotten. Are you schizo? Not in the slightest. These are our parts. One part of you was arguing, the other part of you is Grammy, and they are both perfectly legitimate. They both have unique egos and personalities.

Every day we are subject to the demands of life, and we speak nutritious or toxic WordFood to each other based on which part of us is in play. At times we might think later about ourselves and think, ” What I jerk I was!” But in truth, it was just a part. It’s not the whole of us.

We can get drunk on our egos, get angry at times, and not care who gets hurt. At times like this our egotistical parts can be like an out of control bowling ball and take out everyone in the room, and the next day someone taps us on the shoulder asking for an apology. At that point we’re sober again. “Who me? But I’m not like that! I’m a nice guy!” The truth is, we are like that- a part of us anyway.

We each have within us a multitude of these parts and they write checks in our name all day long. Emotions like fear, anger, frustration, love sweep us off our feet and we end up saying all kinds of things that otherwise might be withheld. It’s the legacy of being human. What’s important is to remember that we’re all like this.

Last night I was having a conversation with a dear friend and I had a part out that wasn’t very attractive. She has been through a lot of losses and it would have served me better to do more listening than talking. But true to her nature she spent a lot of time coaching and listening. It’s instructive when we can look at our parts and see them in action, and learn from them how we interact.

A few years ago during NFL season there was an ad showing cowboys herding thousands of cats. That’s what it’s like, trying to manage our parts. They are unruly, prone to rise based on our emotional state, and we will speak all kinds of WordFood when we are in their grip. If we develop a greater awareness that we have parts that can at times speak out of turn, then we can not only be more accepting of this in others, most important we can accept in ourselves.

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.

May 21, 2012

Harmful WordFood

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 9:19 am

Do you have a part of you that likes to gossip? Many of us do. This negative part of us is also secretly fun- although invariably at others’ expense. But has it ever come back to bite you?
Let’s say you have a friend who is treating you badly, or so you think. You go around to all your friends and complain bitterly. You tell your story with yourself as the victim (as we all tend to do). Your friends take up your cause because they love you. Over time they form a mini “army” of haters against this person and lobby you to leave. Yet over time, you realize that perhaps you were wrong. You learn more. And realize that this person was pretty great after all. Now you have this army of haters that you now have to turn around. They are going to wonder what’s the matter with your judgement when you now want to be with such a horrible person.
You’ve got a responsibility now to clean up your act, and it’s with all your friends. With each of them you need to let them know you’ve been a gossip and that you badmouthed another person unfairly. That it wasn’t fair to that person, nor was it fair to your friend to engage them in such an ugly conversation. And from now on if they hear this kind of thing coming from you to call you out on it. Ask for their help. By doing this, you’re reading your unattractive gossipy part the riot act. By enlisting your loving friends in keeping you in line, you’re cleaning up your WordFood and you’re taking responsibility.
Have you created challenges with harmful WordFood? Engage your inner circle to keep your words supportive and uplifting. Keep gossip out of your life, and leave everyone around you feeling nourished and encouraged.

May 19, 2012

Words to Improve Relationships

My neighbors, Marge and Everett, are in their seventies. Since moving here in 2006, I’ve visited them every so often and we’ve had a good connection. I’m single so sometimes I’ve had to ask Everett for help around the house, often using his long ladder to climb on the roof to dust the heavy snow off my dish during football season.
Just the other day when I again asked Everett for help with a recalcitrant spigot, he told me that Marge was beginning to have problems with my requests for his help. She’d been on meds that made her memory problematic and she was increasingly insecure, so she didn’t like my coming over and dragging him off. In addition, I hadn’t been over just visiting as often lately.
So yesterday I went next door and asked to see Marge. Twenty years ago Marge had been a senior manager in the health care system. We sat down in their living room and I asked her for help. She was a little confused. “I am developing a proposal for Catholic Health Initatives,” I explained. “And I could use your insight, opinions, background and knowledge about the healthcare industry.” Marge flustered a little, but then her face lit up. “I can do that,” she said. “Let me give it some thought. I’d like to help you.” I said I’d be back in a week with a notebook and pen and we’d get to work.
The truth is I could use her help and I really do have the potential for this work. And including Marge on this proposal is perfect for us both. This solves the problem of Marge’s discomfort with me, and it also gives us a great way to work together and she is likely to give me great ideas for my upcoming work. What a win win.

I had gotten selfish in using Everett for my own needs, and stopped thinking about how Marge also needed attention. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we don’t consider others’ needs, especially those of older people, parents, people with so much still to offer.
Where might you create a WordFood opportunity to engage someone to make them feel valuable and important to you?

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