Archive for November, 2014

Thanksgiving, Period.

Captain Pumpkin Cake(Due to the unbelievable scramble of moving, November, and National Novel Writing Month, this blog is a repost from a previous year.  Still true!)

Here is something that popped up when I looked up Thanksgiving on the internet, “Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It precedes Black Friday.”  Really?  That is what Thanksgiving is?!  I felt kinda sick.  Apparently the holiday has devolved to just another meal standing between us and shopping with a few thousand strangers.

 Whatever happened to special meals steeped in tradition?  At what point did we disregard grandma’s sacred recipes and instead opt for standing in line at a big box store?  Lunacy if you ask me.  Not that you would.  I host Thanksgiving at my house.  I absolutely love it.  I look forward to it every year, sifting through my recipes weeks before, deciding which ones to serve.  Many of them are served every year, but I still try to sneak in a new one or two, just to keep everyone guessing.

 Now, I’m not pooh-poohing shopping; I love to shop as much as the next girl.  In fact, my daughters and I usually partake in the Black Friday craziness fairly early in the morning.  But now that it is starting on Thanksgiving…nope.  I just can’t do it.  I don’t care how great the deals are, I’m not giving up my holiday.  I’m not giving up my football.

 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to eat the big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. I know many folks have very different dishes for their traditions.  But what I love is having our boys in the kitchen sneaking meat off the tray as dad is carving the bird.  I love that this is usually the only time I make my Captain Morgan Pumpkin Cake, and the kids wait for it all year.  I love that we have such a big group together, that is it noisy and chaotic.  And most of all, I love our only rule of the day; Eat Lots, Talk Loud.  Because, after all, it is Thanksgiving.

 

You Hear Me, But Are You Listening?

Refs

Many people use the terms hear and listen interchangeably; that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Hearing is done with an organ in your body.  Listening is a whole different animal.  It requires some thought and action.

One of the most frustrating conversations that can take place is a one-sided one.  You’re trying to tell someone something that you’d like them to know.  They hear you, they’re just not listening and you know it.  Sometimes we wonder why we talk to them at all.  Eventually we may just stop.  What will the cost be to them?  In business it could be huge.

If you don’t recognize this type of person, it could be you.  Some telltale signs someone is not listening:

  • Expressionless face– couldn’t care one way or the other about the conversation taking place
  • Mouth half open –ready to jump in the second you take a breath
  • Far-off gaze–maybe trying to perfect their first sentence or repeating a point in their head so they don’t forget it
  • Actually interrupting you or speaking to someone else who may walk past
  • Texting or emailing while the other person is talking

Think you could be guilty or just want to be a better listener?  Here are some ways to better engage in conversations:

  • Ask questions and really listen to the responses
  • Make eye contact, don’t look around the room for other people
  • Pause for a second or two before your responses
  • Put yourself in their shoes rather than trying to one-up them

Maybe a heavy dependence on social media has lessened the practice of being a good listener.  But in business you have to listen to build relationships.  Because ultimately people come and go; people change jobs or companies.  If you’ve worked to build those relationships and can listen to what a client wants, you’re more likely to get the call than someone who cannot hold a conversation.

Dealing with Others’ Success

Slinging MudHave you ever known someone who seemed to take pleasure in the misfortune of others? You know, think of the classic snark crooned by our favorite brooding alternative musician, Morrissey.  His song pretty much sums it up, “We hate it when our friends become successful….It should have been me.  It could have been me.  Everybody says so.”  Ah yes, that explains the situation quite accurately.  It’s envy.

It is definitely obvious in the world of start-ups, in sports, and the entertainment industry. Even if a team or individual wins, the critics are there to dissect every aspect of the event from promotion to completion.  It doesn’t matter if a boxer wins a title bout or a football team clinches a division, if there were empty seats there is fodder for envious pundits.  It is the same for someone who sticks their neck out to launch a new business, whether or not it succeeds.  Apparently we as a society have become so concentrated on honing-in on the negative that we can’t celebrate a victory.

Perhaps those who criticize the most are the most envious. Several minutes into any one of the celebrity gossip shows there’s usually a big scandal. Yes so-and-so won this award, but did you see what she was wearing? Who cares, catty mean girl!  I couldn’t tell you who even a handful of these “celebrity” hosts are, but then I’m sure I’m not their target demographic since I do not watch them.  The point is shows like these, ones that air after a big award show especially, are strictly to rip on people.  A studio filled with green-eyed monsters no doubt.

Not that everyone needs to hold hands around the board room or red carpet while singing kumbaya, but how about a little respect. These are athletes, entrepreneurs, and performers who have trained and worked and had the guts to get out there and put it all on the line.  People who hate it when their acquaintances become successful feel that way because it forces them to reflect on their own inadequacies.  They are likely not happy where they’re at in life but it’s easier to criticize than make changes.

As usual, Morrissey hit the nail on the head. Snark on, sir, snark on.