What It Takes

What It Takes

Clear and Straight-Forward, Trying to Sit Chilly and Do Right

By Callie Oettinger | Published: May 11, 2012

The hard part of sharing is ensuring that what you’ve said is what is heard.

Experience is a factor.

At baseball games, my four-year-old sings “Take me out to the ball game . . . buy me some peanuts and Apple Jacks . . . ” She’s had the cereal more often than the snack, so her understanding of the lyrics is infused with personal experience.

What to do?

Misunderstandings are impossible to avoid. When sharing Steve’s work, we’ve tried to remain clear and straightforward. We know readers bring their own experiences to everything they read/do—and we know we can’t control that piece.

Trying too hard is a factor.

Last summer, a college student came to my door to sell me on the services of the company for which she worked. She told me all about what the other companies in my area didn’t do. Something about her being nice and stumbling over her message, trying to keep things straight, and me remembering when I was in that position years ago, kept me from shutting the door. I stuck around until Silence visited. I asked her a little about what she was doing that day, going door to door and then thanked her and turned down the company.

What to do?

What the college student didn’t know was that I had been unhappy with my current company and was looking for a new one. Her personality had won me over. Had she spent less time talking about why all the other companies were bad, and more time stating what was right about her company, I would have jumped ship. She was trying too hard, and it back-fired. As Steve would say, she wasn’t “sitting chilly.”

I can’t tell you how many phone calls Steve, Shawn, Jeff, and I have had about how we share with others. At some point, we’ve all been that young college student. And while our hearts go out to her, we don’t want to be her again. We want to share what makes the most sense, in the way that we’d want to receive it ourselves.

Audio interference is a factor.

This week I decided to ditch my fax machine and separate phone line and save some money by using an online fax service for those rare instances when a fax is the only way to get things done.

I called a few companies. The one with the best pricing and program had a problem with audio interference. As I spoke with the salesman, I heard Impatience and Condescension answer my questions. Online, the company came through loud and clear. Via one of its reps, it was garbled, corrupted. I tuned out.

What to do?

Steve can’t do all of the sharing. It eats into the time he needs to write his books. Shawn, Jeff and I work with Steve to share his work. Do I feel like I’ve always gotten it right? No.

Every now and then Petty and Anger stop by for a visit. They like to debate Sanity and Calm. I hate to admit that there’s a battle, but one happens from time to time—usually when Nasty visits the comments section. And sometimes, I’m just tired. It’s easier to be short—which just brings on the audio interference. In the end, tuning into the “Do Right” frequency allows for the greatest, most-well-received broadcast.

***

There are other factors, but the three above are the ones that seem to pop up the most often.

In the end, we’re trying to remain clear and straight-forward, sit chilly, and do right.

Posted in What It Takes

5 Responses to “Clear and Straight-Forward, Trying to Sit Chilly and Do Right”

  1. Michael Bronco
    May 11, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Callie,

    We’re all in uncharted waters these days. The internet has changed the way we speak – and listen. Folks expect short and sweet, direct and to the point. But they are also in desperate need of substance. The trick is to find the balance. And yes, folks often will only hear what they already know, and tune out any new information, even if it’s useful. I teach a course in which I offer the following: tune out the stuff you already know – the stuff you’re comfortable with, and listen to the stuff that will launch you.

    For what it’s worth, mistakes are unavoidable and perfectly acceptable. What is never acceptable however, is dishonesty. It just doesn’t work. As long as the communication is honest, and as long as it carries substance, the folks will get it. At least that’s my take.

  2. May 11, 2012 at 7:02 am

    If it rings true inside of you, then it will for others. Maybe not everyone, but it will for some. I think the conversation is more about us being us, rather than us catering our thoughts to masses and their reactions.

  3. Excellent post Callie. I love the last part about how Petty and Anger stop by for a visit sometimes. And Nasty even stops by from time to time. That put a big smile on my face.

    Next time they stop by to visit me in my writing and in my work, I will smile at them and do my best to tune into the “Do Right” frequency! :-)

    Thanks for the great bit of advice.

  4. May 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    As a reward for having, finally, finished grading 50+ final exams – part objective, part essay – I sat chilled and read “Clear…” As a teacher as well as a writer, the opening sentence – “The hard part of sharing is ensuring that what you’ve said is what is heard” – really resonates – especially right now! Inexperience, trying too hard, and audio interference – these barriers to communication and to learning can be challenged, War of Art style, into opportunities and successes.

    Thanks!

  5. basilis
    May 12, 2012 at 1:06 am

    It’s not so easy as it sounds, but I agree with Michael.