Lately I’ve had a blast doing my “Listen & Be Heard: The Art of Communication” workshop with various teams and organizations. The first part of the 90-minute interactive session covers 6 barriers to effective communication; context, tone, trust, timing, clarity, and word choice. Life continually throws new material into an ever-evolving communication overhaul that’s part stand-up comedy, part raw vulnerability as participants work collaboratively to hone their skills.
The comedy comes from unscripted situations like a dinner conversation with Rita last week.
Rita is my 88-year old friend and a gem of a human being. Playful, classy, and full of spirit, Rita delights those in her company with a genuine engaged enthusiasm. One night we were sitting on her porch in Chautauqua watching the world go by and talking about “the kitty”.
Many guests come through the Chautauqua home and during their stay they put some money into a jar known as “the kitty” to help cover groceries and cleaning fees. With the summer winding down and no more guests on the schedule, Rita was telling me about the elaborate (aka ”expensive”) breakfast offered at the nearby hotel. In mouth-watering detail she described the menu then said with excitement,
“We’ll take whats left in the jar and treat ourselves to a nice breakfast…We’ll eat up the kitty!!”
As we laughed I turned in time to see a couple walking past the porch with horrified looks on their faces. The woman nervously reached down and picked up their miniature poodle, no doubt fearing that if we could so joyously talk about eating cats then her tiny dog was surely next.
“Oh dear, “Rita giggles, “I dare say I don’t think we’ll see them again.”
Thanks to context and timing we made two less friends that evening, but gained one hilarious experience in miscommunication.