How are you?
This is where the discussion starts. A question. A seemingly simple question, relatively benign. I might have gone with something a little less nebulous trying to avoid the customary “fine” response; perhaps something weather-related: hot enough/cold enough for you? A safe topic. Who doesn’t have opinions about the weather?
What I’m looking for is a spark. A commonality, a thread. Do we think alike? Am I threatened if we don’t?
I understand not being free to speak your mind in all situations, or it’s not prudent to say what your brain is thinking. Especially if you’re the one starting the conversation, you have to be discerning; you have to use your “company brain.” The layer of your brain that serves pleasantries and kind thoughts, puts a positive spin on traditional ways, gives the benefit-of-the-doubt and agrees to be a team player. The part of the brain that uses the “company voice,” a respectful, polite tone-of-voice—delivered with a smile–as it compels the person to continue to work on behalf of and for the good of “the company.”
Another explanation: my friend refers to it as her Mom’s “company voice.” Her Mom used a pleasant tone-of-voice with company: the neighbors, the neighbors’ kids, door-to-door salesmen, and the church choir. People she didn’t know well, “company,” she met with mutual respect as the kind human-being she was: she smiled, listened, offered well-wishes, pleasant thoughts, and helped when she could. She showed that person respect in stature and tone.
Both definitions of “company,” at the office or at home, imply you temper your speaking when the situation calls for it. That includes what you say and how you say it. (There’s another blog here about appropriateness and circumstance which I’ll save for another post.) Today’s question: Can you temper your language and tone-of-voice? Can that be done? And if so…
Can we temper our thinking as well? There’s an element of chicken and egg thinking here. Which comes first? Tempered, controlled brain or steady, controlled voice? Hmmmm.
What if we could? Temper them both: thinking and speaking. Could we create kinder, more respectful discourse if we went back to the pleasantries? The “company” voice, however you define it.
What pleasantries would you add?
(Let me just add PLEASE and THANK YOU to the top of the list.)
And, I’d want to be respectful, but that word is subjective. Each of us has something to say about the subject—especially when it comes to politics and Donald Trump, (aside) know what I mean? And here’s the switch.
What if. What if it was a gift when someone shared with you what they think?
Isn’t it a gift when someone shares their thinking with you? (eye roll, obviously there are extremes) But not everyone feels free to talk about what lies OUTSIDE the “company” voice and brain. For many, it’s not pleasant at all. I’m reminded of the movie “What Dreams May Come” with Robin Williams where he and his wife’s thinking created both heaven and hell. #RIPRobinWilliams #loveyoumissyou
When someone shares with you what they think of Donald Trump, it goes one of two ways: you either unite in your immediate disgust and disdain for the harm this man is causing and you’re in hell, or you find yourself looking squarely into the eyes of someone who thinks nothing like you but believes they and Donald Trump are heaven-bound. (Lord! Have mercy!) It’s time to use your company brain and voice!
We can barely put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. How can we possibly put ourselves inside their brain, let alone their dreams or their reasons for supporting Trump? We can’t. But with polite, respectful conversations, we just might find out why. We’re going to need to know and understand if we expect to heal from this divide. We’ve got to seek to understand what each person believes. And that takes conversation. With enough of it, we might realize we are more alike than different, that we want many of the same things, and we all share the bond of being human beings on this planet.
Sometimes all it takes to start the conversation is a question.
“How you doin’?” Joey Triviani.
A spark. A willingness to treat someone you just met or barely know as “company,” as part of “the company”: to think and speak kindly to them, about them, and for them. To work with them for the good of the company, the planet, and ALL of our people.