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

April 10, 2015

WordFood: Say it NOW

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 11:34 pm

A week ago, a member of my high school class of 1971 passed away unexpectedly due to a heart attack. Brian was much loved, gave a great deal to the community, and much was said about his life and works.

I posted Brian’s photo on my site as well as some strong suggestions about how important it is that we say what needs to be said before we are standing graveside, wishing bitterly our last words hadn’t been in anger, or so humdrum. Wishing we had expressed our love, our admiration, mended the fence.

Well you can. Now. Today. Pick up the damned phone and do it now. Call, text, ping, tweet, IM, and surprise the heck out of someone in your life by saying what needs to be said, the good and caring and wonderful things that people need to hear.

One of the hardest things we will ever say to anyone is “I’m sorry.” Most of us are so addicted to being right that we choke on these words. Yet where it’s possible to reestablish a relationship by apology, in the end it is worth a moment of discomfort (okay, well, deep discomfort) to get someone back in your life. It could be a life changing moment.

People may respond in lots of different ways, but I guarantee you this: three wonderful things are likely to happen. First, when you start popping out kind notes to people in your world, nice things appear. People respond in kind (yes, and some will want to know what you want). You’re sending out delight. Second, when you are spending time here and there sending out nice thoughts, sweet notes and thoughtful tweets, this directly affects your state of mind, your well being and the way you see the world. You experience yourself in a very positive way. Third, by making sure that the people you care about are fed loving WordFood regularly, you know that your last words with them were probably wonderful ones.

Chances are the folks we treasure are going to be with us for a good long while. Even more reason to make sure they know how we feel about them. The joy we engender by expressing our affection and getting over old or perceived hurts is worth it.

Do it now, folks. Let’s use our social media for what it’s meant to do: connect us, bring us together, and solidify our relationships. There isn’t anything else more important.

August 26, 2012

Devil’s Food Diet: When to Back Down

Every so often we are dealt a rough hand and end up working for an unreasonable boss. Or we have to deal with a particularly unpleasant customer, someone who gets in our face about a refund or an unsatisfactory meal. Perhaps we live with someone who is demanding, blustery, out of control, my way or the highway, always demanding to be right.

I call this the Devil’s Food Diet in my book WordFood: How We Feed or Starve our Relationships. Wherever this person shows up, the words that we hear are pretty awful: “You owe me.” “You’re wrong, I’m right.” “I told you about this already, get this done.” While sometimes we can steer clear of the person, sometimes we just can’t: it’s the guy in charge, we’re the customer service rep that day, we’re the manager on call, maybe it’s our boss. Or maybe it’s us.

Life is demanding, and we call get stressed. I heard a story from a friend the other day who was on her way to the airport from a rather isolated resort Marriott in Texas. Her limo had arrived early and her two bags had already been loaded in. She walked up to the door across the car from him with her purse and her roller computer bag and got in.

A long drive later through early rush hour traffic she paid her $70 and got out, and her driver unloaded her bags. “Where’s my computer bag?” she said. It had been left on the curb at the Marriott. There ensued an angry exchange about who’s fault it was that this had happened. What was immediately apparent was that they had to go back to the hotel and retrieve it.

The driver called his boss and spoke in Arabic about what to do. My friend was angry and felt foolish, but she also realized that she hadn’t pointed out to the driver that she had the extra bag. When they got to the hotel, she found her bag, but the driver stood by the car door and said that his boss demanded payment in advance or else he wouldn’t drive her back to the airport. She laughed and said, “I guarantee I’ll pay you, let’s just make my plane, please!” This convinced the young man, and they drove off.

On the way back, she said that it wasn’t anyone’s fault- and the $140 was nothing in the course of a lifetime. “It is to my boss!” the young man laughed. She explained that in the big picture it wasn’t about the money. It was about accepting responsibility. To her, she told me later, it wasn’t worth the argument or the bad feelings trying to be right. They ended up telling tales all the way to the airport, getting back in plenty of time.

The young man gave her a discount on the trip as a courtesy, and she ended up with a funny story and a mild dent in her finances. It’s possible that the young man came away with a different way of thinking about Americans- perhaps his boss, too. Such an impression could have far-reaching impact far beyond just an afternoon airport ride.

Everyone makes a foolish error that can be costly. It can be embarrassing, like my friend’s. If you feel your blood pressure rising and hear your volume go up an octave or two, it’s a great time to challenge your ego before you get swept away. Someone is going to be a loser, and ultimately it may be you. There is nothing that compares to the feelings of graciousness when you can give way to a greater good, and come away friends.

June 11, 2012

WordFood for Top Performers

Are you lucky enough to have great performers on your team? Are they highly independent, self-starting individuals? Are you glad that you can pretty much let them do their own thing and leave them alone?

Then you may be making a big mistake.

It’s very easy to assume that these top performers don’t need feedback or management oversight. Sure, they don’t want micromanagement- they are, after all, intrapreneurs. They might even tell you that they don’t need you to look in on them. But this is largely untrue.

Your top performers all have egos. And they want to know you’re paying attention to their work. That doesn’t mean looking over their shoulders all the time. What it does mean is that you do check in and acknowledge them. Notice their achievements. Ask them their opinions and involve them in the development of new people. Watch their numbers and express your appreciation.

Don’t be fooled by their independence. Our highest achievers want positive WordFood from you. They want to know you’re paying attention to what they do. If you don’t, they will find somewhere else to work where they will get that pat on the back.

All too often well meaning leaders make the assumption that their best people don’t need attention. The opposite is true. These are the people who deserve the most acknowledgement. This teaches your lowest performers that to get more of your support, they have to step it up.

Many a great employee has left because he or she got ignored. Make sure you are giving Energy Enhancer compliments to those who are making your company successful. Find out how they want to be valued: everyone is unique.

Feed your best performers rich WordFood and they will continue to reward you.

May 31, 2012

WordFood of Love

My friend Lori is extremely busy. She left a demanding job as a partner with a tile company a few years ago to take a break and found herself even busier, taking on responsibilities working at a hospice, learning and then teaching Italian, getting and then training a dog to be a companion to those in need. Now she is deeply involved with animal rights issues.

Our friendship has spanned thirty years. As Lori has gotten older she has taken on bigger and more complex projects. Her time is more precious. We don’t talk very often and when I do call, I usually find her in a highly preoccupied state.

Today, I called and got the usual. “Hi honey, look I don’t have time to talk, my Italian student is late, I have a deadline to meet, she knows this drives me crazy, can we talk later?”
“Lori, I only called for one thing.”
“What’s that?”
“To say I love you.”
“Oh. Thank you darling.”
“You’re welcome.”

We can get so in love with our busy-ness and our activities that we forget to make room for those we call our closest friends. Sometimes we need to just take a moment and breathe, and let someone love us.

When a child wants to hug you, are you too busy to take that extra few seconds to cuddle? When your mom wants to say something to you on the phone, are you in a hurry to hang up to get on to more important things? These ARE the important things.

When we look back on the times that were important, we think about the exchanges we had with those most precious to us. Not the big deals, the contracts won, the high fives with the guys at the office. It’s the WordFood of love that we were fed by our children, our parents, our beloved friends, our family members.

Who in your life needs five phone seconds from you? Who is so busy, so preoccupied, so busy in life that an “I Love You” message would be a bright spot in their day? My beloved friend Lori reminds me that I’m the one who needs to call her.

Whose life can you brighten today?

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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