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

November 6, 2012

Feed Others Your Attention

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 8:00 am

You know how it is when you’re talking to someone on the phone and they just “go away?” You hear a stealthy typing in the background and their conversation changes from full engagement to “uh huhs,” and “hmmms” and other distracted grunts? Annoying, isn’t it? It’s bad enough when you’re in someone’s presence and they take a phone call in the middle of your conversation. Or they plunk their iPhone on the table when you sit down at lunch, effectively indicating that anything that comes in on that device is more important than what you’re going to talk about. People’s full attention is hard to get. Something else always seems to be more important than what they have here and now. That little green light on the phone demands an answer: who wants me???

There is no remedy for bad manners. They best you can do is politely ask for someone to be present with you and come back to the conversation when they wander. And we always know the precise moment they do wander. You have a right to be heard, and you have a right to ask for someone’s full attention. The challenge comes when it’s a client that’s being rude or a boss who’s abusing your time. In cases like this it takes your greatest courtesy. You need to ask as nicely as possible for them to respect the effort you’ve put into the presentation. You might point out that you need their full attention because you respect their expertise so much and you need their input. You understand that they are busy people but it would be helpful if they could briefly set aside their distractions since their full attention is so important to the success of your project. Appeal to their egos.

Keep an eye on how you show up with your own use of devices as well. How do you wield your technology? Are you interrupting conversations or letting calls go to voice mail? Unless you have a bona fide emergency there is nothing so important as the person you are with. That respect will pay off in the long run.

We are all hungry for courtesy, attention, and for someone to truly listen to us. Devices are here to bring us together, not get in the way of our ability to talk to each other.

June 13, 2012

WordFood Starvation Diet

Have you ever had someone say to you, “Talk to the hand?”

Has your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or coworker ever turned their back on you and refused to talk for an hour, day or even weeks as punishment for something that perhaps you may not realize you’ve done?

If this has happened to you, you’ve been put on what I call in the WordFood vernacular the Starvation Diet. No matter what you do, somebody’s not responding to you. You get the cold shoulder. No eye contact. No emails, tweets, phone calls. The silence is hurting you- possibly both of you, and if this is happening at the office, productivity may be going down if it’s a critical work relationship.

Someone is hurt here, and as time goes on, the chances are both of you feel hurt and angry. Your egos get involved and tend to want to be right. It gets harder to solve the problem the longer it goes on.

At some point, someone has to offer the olive branch. Bury the hatchet. It’s important to realize that others may be affected by this Starvation Diet: people in your family, community members, others at work. Consider the importance of letting go of your attachment to being right about whatever happened or didn’t happen, and the value of the relationship.

One of the best ways to bridge the gap is simply to apologize whether or not the problem was yours to begin with. Acknowledge your part of the issue. Look at the larger picture and what’s at stake, and offer to move beyond this and work things out. Suggest a way to proceed.

The offer of an apology is often the first step towards mending a broken relationship. Gently inquire about what’s wrong. Be gracious, courteous, caring. Show your appreciation for their feelings. Make no assumptions for what’s going on inside them, for we never really know. All we can do is offer our understanding and empathy.

When we are fed a Starvation Diet, we are often dealing with hurt or anger, possibly with fear. It’s up to us to make the first step. Offer a safe place for the other person to feel validated and a way forward, and see if you can start talking again. A little time, caring and compassion go a long way.

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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