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Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

You know how it is when you sit in a waiting room at a doctor’s office? Everybody just keeps to their own little space. Sometimes there is a nod of the head, or handing over of a newspaper, but mostly there’s just silence.

Yesterday I was part of a friendly group that kicked the silence model right out the door. It started when two retirement-aged women started talking and comparing notes on something. I put down my Kindle and joined in. A man came in and he participated in the conversation too. One of the woman’s husband and adult daughter entered, so we all introduced ourselves. (Yes, we actually shared names in the doctor’s waiting room…unheard of!) A couple of people noted how much fun we were having, and one called it a party. It was almost sad when the nurse came to call somebody into the examination room and they had to leave. While her mother saw the doctor, the daughter and I had a nice conversation about retailing. After they left, one of the woman who had been telling us about her frustrating medical condition popped her head in before she left to let me know she was doing much better. Then I was alone in the room.

Before long, an elderly man came in, preparing to sit in the usual silence. I wasn’t ready to let the conversation end, so I asked him a question. Before long, he was telling me about his life – he was in his nineties and was upset he couldn’t do all the things he used to be able to do. He had a lot of physical complaints and didn’t seem to have much companionship in his life. I am hoping that maybe a brief show of interest from a stranger may have given him just a little comfort. I wished him well.

When I went back to college a few years ago, I chose to major in Communication Studies. I became passionate about the power of honest communication and authentic interactions to change the world. Yesterday we might not have made any big, outright changes, but together a small group of people helped make a positive impact on each other’s day. That has to be a contribution to what is right in the world.

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There was an interesting segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show today about charisma.  Reported by Susan Spencer,  it was mostly about charisma in the context of assessing modern day presidents and presidential candidates.  Somebody who is charismatic can be defined as one with charm or personal appeal.  I’d rather have a strong sense of character than something so superficial. But I realize that charisma goes deeper than what we see on the surface.

The program introduced us to Joseph Nye, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.  He describes certain people with charisma as having a “personal connection”, and ability to “project warmth and personality.”  Aha, so it is a communication thing, and I am all in favor of clear and positive interpersonal communication.

But I wonder if charisma something genuine if it can be quantified and taught?  Professor Alex Pentland from MIT and his team say the have found a way to measure charisma. (Why didn’t I become an academic researcher of charisma? It sounds like fun and probably pays well, too!)  What their device actually measures is whether a person is energetic. The show also features John Neffinger who runs workshops to teach people how to have charisma. He says the key factors are “strength and warmth”, as projected by a smile and body language.

What does this all mean to me?  I believe it all starts with what is inside, so it is up to each of us to let the energy and love of the universe into ourselves – and develop our own qualities such as humor, adventure, and integrity that define our character.  Then, when we use that energy from within to smile, look somebody in the eye, to listen and react to what they have to say, we are doing so from an authentic center.  It is essential to make this kind of connection with other people.  Character or charisma? My vote: have both, but the character comes first.

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Are you social media savvy?   If you are like me, you are making an effort to communicate online.  I think this is just the tip of the iceberg of what social networking will be in the future, although I think it will look a lot different then.  But, I want to get my toe in the water now, so I don’t get rolled over by the wave.

First of all, there is Facebook.  What can you say?  If Facebook was a country, it would be the fifth most populous nation on earth!  And guess who comprises the fastest growing demographic on Facebook? Women over 55! Whether or not you are part of that demographic, it says something about who is now using this popular form of social networking. I love to see what my friends and relatives are doing.  I especially enjoy viewing photos and updates of my nieces, nephews, and other young people in my life who are my Facebook “friends.” If you have been cautious about online privacy, and haven’t made the leap yet, know that here are privacy settings on Facebook that might increase your comfort level.

Besides Facebook, I am signed up with LinkedIn, a site for business networking and job hunting.  I have not signed up for Twitter, because I really don’t see the personal benefits at this time.  You already know I blog, because that is where I am posting this piece. I also enjoy reading blogs, those of my friends and others I have come across, and I like to revisit them occasionally for updates.

Recently I learned about RSS, meaning Really Simple Syndication according to Wikipedia, which allows you to view updates to your frequently visited sites in one place. (You may have seen the letters RSS or its graphic symbol on websites or blogs). I am too new to it to explain it well, but luckily I don’t have to!  There are people at  CommonCraft.com who will explain RSS (and other social media subjects) in a 3-minute long video online.  This site was featured in Nick Summer’s article titled “Technology for Dummies” in the June 1, 2009 issue of Newsweek magazine.  After viewing it, I signed up with Google Reader , but there are other sites that serve this purpose also.  If you decide to sign up with RSS, I hope you’ll add the blog you are reading now: www.shelleyo.wordpress.com to your subscription list.

Whatever you choose to do – or not do – online, I think it is a good idea to “Google” yourself once in awhile to see what your online presence, if any, is like.  You may discover something unexpected, and may want to make changes to something that others can find online.  I like to live my life in a spirit of no surprises! 

I would love to hear what you have to say about this subject.  Any comments?  Let’s discuss!

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