Staying Connected on a Human Level in the Age of Technology (from a Baby Boomer Perspective)

Staying Connected on a Human Level in the Age of Technology (from a Baby Boomer Perspective)

Technology is a wonderful thing.

I am a member of the Boomer generation, and while I try to keep up with all the Millennials who probably have never experienced life without technology in their grasp, there are times I feel overwhelmed and disconnected.

That sounds like an oxy-moron.

The very thing that keeps us connected to the rest of the world through millions of apps, (2.8 million for Android and 2.2 million for Apple as of March 2017,) and websites has me feeling disconnected.

I’m not against technology. I have a Smartphone, a computer, an iPad, even a Smart TV, and I use them all every day.

Our devices have become a third leg, we don’t go anywhere without them. I’m guilty of that as well. I feel lost without my iPhone, check it first thing in the morning and keep it nearby at all times. And of course, I’m not the only one. Almost everywhere you look, people are staring at their phones. Some use it for entertainment, others reading the news, or checking out the latest shopping deals; the list goes on and on. There really is a good, bad and ugly of Smartphones.

Many people probably don’t even remember a time when people struck up conversations in line waiting to buy movie tickets. They either have their faces glued to their phone, or they have bought the tickets . . . ONLINE!

We have become content to spend more time alone, our only companion our hand-held devices.

Or, when we are with others, we’re not engaged in conversation because we are checking Facebook, Tweeting or Texting. What has happened to our human connections?

The question then becomes:

How can we use technology to stay connected?

There are so many cool apps and devices that can keep us in touch with one another. More than I can list. More than I have tried. More than I will ever hear of and try.

But that’s not the point.

Whatever technology tool you use to get together with people, use it solely as a tool and then rely on human interaction.

Be present with each other. Sure, use your phone to text, set up meetings or social events, but when you are present in each other’s company, BE PRESENT. Take a picture, post it on Social Media and put your phone away. Make eye contact, smile and have a real conversation.

I get there are situations where you can’t physically be together and have those in-person experiences. And that is where technology is a real plus.

Skype or other technologies such as Google Hangout and Zoom where people who don’t live in the same town or even country can see each other are amazing for connecting. Not only are these services available through your computer, but with a Smart TV, programmed to access the Internet – you can interact with friends and family on the big screen.

Even video games that are played online that allow users to chat with each other have value in connecting the players to each other.

But here’s the key to really connecting. If your phone is in your lap and you are constantly looking at it, chatting with others, posting to social media, shopping online, etc. then you have missed the point of being present.

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Interested in being connected on a human level? I conduct workshops that teach people the skills to connect through their values  — Ask me about team building events for Corporations, Seniors, and Kids.

 

Previously published on PakWired.

This Happened—Now What? You Have a Choice!

This Happened—Now What? You Have a Choice!

How you choose to think about a situation is going to determine how quickly and successfully you move through it.

This applies to many areas in life: money, relationships, work, comments you overhear, things you read on the Internet, and so much more.

You have the power to choose how deeply you internalize any situation and while it may take some practice, each time you rise above what is happening and view it more objectively, your skill level increases.

Here is what I discovered

You can’t change the past, but you can change the energy you allow it to own.

Having been a student of life, all my life, I learned much of what I know from observing others and how they react and respond to people and circumstances.

Not to say I haven’t learned from my own experiences as well, but it seems easier, or perhaps more clear to notice others first and then in reflection, ask yourself what you would do in the same situation.

You can go forward, backward, or do nothing.

Consider these options

  • You can dwell on the situation, letting it fester and make you sick emotionally (and physically.)
  • You can seek out more information to understand what occurred and if it is a situation that can be resolved.
  • You can accept where you are and move forward, onward and upward.

I’m not saying forget something happened. That’s how we learn and make different choices in the future. But the energy doesn’t need to have an emotional charge that brings us down.

This is why I recommend looking at it from a different view—as if you were not part of the equation and you were only observing.

Try it and let me know if it affected you differently.

Photo: Pixabay

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Did you know that happier people can make an organization become more profitable? My workshops help people find common ground, build business bonds, and strengthen relationships.

 

10 Meaningful Ways to Connect With Others This Year

10 Meaningful Ways to Connect With Others This Year

The beginning of another year –

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t believe in waking up on the first day of each year, determined to turn my life in another direction. Those kinds of declarations rarely stick.

Instead, I look for ways to be more present in my everyday life. And for me, the best way to stay present is to stay connected –with myself  – and others.

On one hand (did you look at the picture) I have to have “Me” time – my personal health and well-being depends on it. If I am not fully present with myself, or don’t fill my own bucket first, I am not able to do so for others.

Here Are Five Ways I Stay Connected To Me

Experience Nature – Going for a walk and feeling the breeze in the air lifts my spirits. The sound of the rustle in the leaves, sings to me and the colors are inspiring. It doesn’t matter the season; I find joy in every walk. The pace doesn’t even matter, it’s about moving my body and noticing life blooming all around me.

Read – I love getting lost in a good book and taking a journey somewhere new. I prefer physical books, but on occasion read them on an electronic device. Even audio books are great, especially in the car. Even if it’s only a half hour per day that I escape into another world, it’s valuable me time.

Travel – There are so many places I want to visit and I don’t know if I will get to all of them, but I don’t want to live with regrets that I never went anywhere. Day trips are valuable too; a change of scenery can be an adventure. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and stay close to home. Venture out and have fun in new places.

Experience – Try something new. Last year I went zip lining for the first time. It was a blast. But if you are not the outdoor adventure type, something new such as a cooking or art class can be fun.

Meditate – Turning off your mind to outside stimuli is a great way to recharge. Sometimes there is so much coming at me from so many different ways that I get overwhelmed. A few deep breaths and some soothing music allow me to drift to a peaceful place.

Now, on the other hand, life is expanded when experiences include others. Sharing time with others opens you up to their feelings, viewpoints, wants and needs. But connecting doesn’t mean just being in the same space together; it is about going below the surface to discover more about each other and how you can add to their lives.

Here Are Five Ways To Connect More Deeply To Others

Be Present – Put away your cell phones and other electronic devices. The emails, text messages, social media posts will all be there later. Paying attention to outside stimuli sends a message you care more about “things” than relationships.

Be An Active Listener – If you are so busy trying to figure out what you want to say next, you really aren’t hearing what others are saying. Someone once referred to this as “having your own motion picture going in your head.” Relationships are so much better when you are both watching the same movie!

Discover Their “Why” – We all bring our learned values and experiences to every relationship. Past events shape our lives. “Why” someone acts or feels the way they do about any situation is directly connected to their experiences. The more deeply you understand others, the stronger the relationship becomes.

Find Common Ground – It’s a natural tendency to want to hang out and get to know people we have things in common with. There are plenty of groups online that help facilitate those experiences. When you don’t know in advance that you have like interests, asking questions about birthplace, hobbies, passions, etc., is a great place to start. A recent acquaintance and I discovered we both attended the same camp at the same time when we were kids during a conversation. It’s a common bond we will always share.

Be Open-Minded – I have a unique set of beliefs, opinions and ways of doing things. They work for me, but I don’t expect everyone I meet to buy into them. My conversations would be pretty boring if everyone agreed with everything I said. I have very dear friends who hold different religious and political beliefs, raise their children differently and view many aspects of life through a different lens. Those actions and views are right for them. We can agree to disagree and we trust each other enough to be open-minded about having ideas that vary from our own way of thinking. It makes for some interesting conversation too!

Did you notice the graphic at the top? Two hands representing 2016 equals 20 digits, not just 10. So here is an additional list of relationship builders for you.

The “Handy” Top Ten Attitudes That Will Make Your Relationships Even Better in 2016

Be Optimistic – We attract what we project out to the world. Always look for the silver lining.

Be Grateful – Appreciate what you already have instead of focusing on what isn’t there.

Be Joyful – Live your life enthusiastically. Savor each moment.

Be Possible – Yes, you can achieve your dreams. The path may not always be clear, but it is there. Believe in yourself.

Be Helpful – Whenever you see an opportunity to make someone’s life better, do it. Not only will the other person feel good, you will too.

Be Kind – Especially with your words. They remain behind.

Be Forgiving – Holding on to hurt and pain will rob you of your personal power. Most importantly, forgive yourself and move forward to better things.

Be Sincere – You’ve heard the phrase, “Say what you mean and mean what you say?” It applies to how you view yourself too.

Be Passionate – Live life to the fullest and give it your all. The rewards are equal to the passion behind the effort.

Be Amazing – Because you already are. Own it!

Wishing you a year of momentous relationships!

The Lesson That Made My Marriage Stronger

The Lesson That Made My Marriage Stronger

I struggle with written directions. Reading financial statements stresses me out and makes my head spin. Following a written recipe is a challenge. I look like an early reader with my finger resting on each word.

Tell me the driving directions or share a recipe verbally and I’ve got it. I can visualize what I hear and I’m off and running, or driving, or cooking.

Back in my college days studying communication, I learned about the different ways people process information. My husband and I are complete opposites. Sometimes our conversations go in circles as we each try to get our point across in different ways.

I know I am an audio-digital learner because I process sounds and I’m sensitive to voices. I can’t hear two conversations at once; I simply shut down. If you talk to me while I’m watching TV, I only hear garble from both sources. The good news is you only have to tell me something once and I will almost always remember. But tell me something multiple times and I tend to get irritated.

“You told me already! I got it!”

My husband is a visual learner. He writes everything down and is a list maker to the ‘nth’ degree. There are envelopes and pieces of paper all over the house on which he writes the same notes over and over.

If I need him to pick up something at the store, he can’t keep that item in his head. He has to write it down. If he can take an empty container with him to see exactly what he needs, all the better. Unlike me, he prefers written directions and is challenged listening to a GPS.

I used to get really upset when he asked me for information, then had to wait for him to to write it down. I would find I would have to  repeat the information several times until he finally had it all on paper. It was incredibly frustrating because I felt he wasn’t listening to me. I didn’t understand why I had to keep repeating myself. I didn’t get why he didn’t hear me.

“I told you already! Why don’t you hear me?”

It took me a long time to understand my husband wasn’t ignoring me. A recent conversation with a friend on communication styles brought my college lessons to the present. Once I remembered we communicate and process differently, it was as if lightning struck in a good way. (No, this one isn’t about my chimney.)

We also handle situations differently too. He wants to solve them immediately and move on to the next thing. If I don’t see a project as urgent, I set it aside until I believe it needs to be worked on.

For him, the perfectionist who wants everything done immediately, hearing it will be done is not the same as seeing it done. He has a hard time with my viewpoint that the project will get done when I’m ready to tackle it, and my timeline doesn’t have to be his. I wish he would take the time to rest and not make everything on his list a high priority.

We still have challenges, but understanding our different styles helped us to find our rhythm and to ease the frustration we both felt.

In order to effectively communicate with my husband, I need to respect and accommodate his learning style of writing things down.

We came up with a thumbs up symbol to let him know that I am taking care of whatever task he thinks I need to be handling; it lets him know I am aware and it is on my list.

What used to irritate us has led us to build a bridge between our different learning styles.

We are both learning patience.

Previously published on The Good Men Project

My Coffee Connection

My Coffee Connection

Yes, the title sounds like the name of a networking group and I think I have even been to one with that name. I have made some incredible connections over coffee, but that is not where I am headed.

This is about a hospital experience and a brand of coffee, Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas. The flavor was introduced during the holiday season in 1995 and soon became a year-round favorite.

The label lists it as a comfort brand, and I concur. Nuts, coconut, caramel, and vanilla waft slowly out of my cup, the aroma soothing, and warm.

I first discovered Santa’s White Christmas in the Florida Hospital cafeteria during the many months I visited my mom after her open-heart surgery in 2004.

The escalator from the parking garage exits right by the cafeteria. It became a routine to pop in for my morning cup of coffee on the way to ICU where Mom spent many weeks due to complications. That is another story for another time.

When Keurig first entered the market, Barnie’s was not yet in the game. I often saw packages of ground SWC in the stores. I no longer had a traditional drip coffee pot and there wasn’t a Barnie’s store near me.

Then finally it happened! Barnie’s K-Cups hit the shelves and I stocked up on my favorite brew.

Drinking it makes me smile. It is a hug in the morning. Even though my mom was in dire straights during those months, I have good memories. It was my break from ICU; a rehabilitative walk to the cafeteria to clear my head, the coffee pots in the familiar corner beckoning me.

This week, I visited with a friend who was at the same hospital, her father having just had surgery. I headed down the familiar escalator and felt the pull, turning right and heading back to the area I remembered the coffee pots were located.

I sighed with relief. In the back corner, lined up on the wall was the coffee section, and center stage my beloved Santa’s White Christmas!

Memories flooded back and I stood there for a moment before I reached for a cup and filled it with the warm brew. Even though it’s the same product I enjoy every morning in my kitchen, I think this cup had something a little extra in it. Thanks for the hug!

No Problem is a Problem!

No Problem is a Problem!

Are you starting a new business and need to hire employees? No Problem!

Do you need to fill a customer order? No Problem!

Perhaps source out the right technology? No Problem!

How many times have you asked a question of a business, inquiring if something could be done and the response you received was “No Problem?”

Whether you are asking a waitress for a beverage, a retail clerk for help with a product or a technical support representative to solve your IT dilemma, “No Problem” is a phrase that should be eliminated from business vocabulary.

Take a closer look at the phrase and notice that it is comprised of two negative words, No and Problem. And that is a problem. Mindset experts will tell you that we integrate the words we hear, and although this phrase is commonplace, it tells us that something that should be a positive response actually has negative undertones.

No Problem? I would hope as the customer, that it is NOT a problem. I never imagined it would be. Why would you even suggest that? Any student of positive thinking, (often referred to as The Law of Attraction), believes that what you think is what you attract, and would argue that No Problem attracts, well, problems.

Try this exercise. Visualize saying “Thank You” to someone for a service and hearing them say “No Problem.” Now visualize the same person responding to your appreciating them by saying “My Pleasure.” Doesn’t that feel better? Say the words yourself. Don’t you feel a little more joyful expressing a higher positive response?

Our customers can sense attitudes in business. Organizations with a positive mindset attract and keep far more customers than those that believe in helping themselves before helping others. Connecting with your customers, establishing a friendly atmosphere and creating relationships are the key to successful business endeavors.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain requires its employees to say “My pleasure” in response to customer requests. Their culture strongly affirms that they are in business to WOW the customers.

I have had employees tell me they feel uncomfortable using the words, ‘My Pleasure.’ One said it sounded cheesy to her. I challenged her to find other phrases, that were positive, encouraging and put the customer first. She came up with several acceptable phrases, including, “Of course” – “I would be happy to” – “Absolutely” and “You’re welcome” to be used when appropriate.

Without our customers, we wouldn’t have a business. How well we serve them determines if they will come back. Therefore, we need to create a culture of loyal customers that will return again and again.How we treat our customers and our employees matter. It should never be ‘No Problem’ to get something done.

Instead, let the customer know you appreciate their business and you don’t take it for granted.

Because there really are No Problems – Only Situations and Opportunities!

Originally published Pakwired.com

Photo:Flicker / Ulrich Massier

Something I Never Told You – Sharing Family Memories

Something I Never Told You – Sharing Family Memories

I recently conducted a workshop for a non-profit that organizes monthly activities for its member families. It is one of my favorite events to facilitate because the stories that are shared cover a wide span of ages and experiences. I always marvel at the giggles and affectionate glances that are exchanged as the family members uncover layers of memories that deepen their family bonds.

It doesn’t really matter if a family event is comprised of  seniors and their adult children, or younger parents and their kids. The experiences they share are what connects them to each other in meaningful ways. Often, they both chip in their version and memories of the same event and if you pay close attention, you will see smiles and nods around the room as the rest of the participants relate to some of the stories.

Occasionally, the parent or child will share something the other has never heard before and that turns into a very special moment. A recent experience with my son in Washington, DC reminded me of those family workshops.

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Part of the antenna recovered from the second tower. In the background, front pages of newspapers from around the world reporting the events of 911

Because of my background working for media, both in print and online, Joel arranged for us to visit the Newseum (News Museum), and together we touched the Berlin Wall, viewed the 911 exhibit as well as the history of comics and Newspaper Syndicates.

Joel knew this would be a home run activity that I would love. But I had no idea that one of the displays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photos that wrapped around a curved wall and filled a room with images of joy, sadness, horror and adventure  would hold a memory from his childhood I had never shared with him before.

This feeling in the room was equally reverent and emotional. Every Pulitzer Prize photo both in News and Feature categories were on display, along with descriptions and the story behind the photo from the photographer; how he or she got the shot. Some of the photos were stunningly beautiful, others horrific scenes of war or disaster.

The picture that stopped me in my tracks was taken in 1987 of Baby Jessica McClure, the little girl who fell down a well in Midland, Texas.

Scott Shaw's Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo taken as Baby Jessica McClure was pulled from the well in Midland, Texas

Scott Shaw’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo was taken as Baby Jessica McClure was pulled from the well in Midland, Texas. Originally published: Odessa (TX) American

Only a few months older than Joel, the incident happened just before his first birthday in October. I remember so clearly sitting up all night watching and praying with the nation for her rescue. And 58 hours later as she was pulled from the well, I was picking up my little boy out of his crib and holding him while he slept, grateful that he was safe and sound in my arms as she was once again in her mother’s. As I shared that story with Joel, I felt the tears again rolling down my cheeks.

Maybe Joel understands now why I always wanted to make sure he was safe growing up, by knowing who he was hanging out with and where he was. Even today, I appreciate his updates when he travels and arrives at his destination.

We experienced some amazing memories that weekend. It is something we will always have to talk about and as with the workshops, makes our family connection even stronger.

Photo:Flickr

Love Yourself – Father’s Anti-Bullying Song For His Daughter Goes Viral

Love Yourself – Father’s Anti-Bullying Song For His Daughter Goes Viral

Truth be told, we probably all know someone who has been bullied. This dad taught his daughters how to “Love Yourself” no matter what! More than advice, he provided them with tools to make a difference.

I’M BEAUTIFUL – I’M WORTHY –

THOSE MEAN WORDS CAN’T HURT ME!

I’M PRICELESS – I’M SMART – I LOVE MYSELF –

I’M FOCUSSED ON MY HEALTH!

Read my article on The Good Men Project and Check out the video here!

Photo: Youtube/ Khari Toure

Three Ways Team Building Will Improve Your Relationships

Three Ways Team Building Will Improve Your Relationships

When was the last time you tried something new? Something adventurous? Something completely out of your comfort zone and, you did it with someone else?

I conduct team-building workshops for companies to help them build stronger relationships, but recently I focused on a much smaller team. There were only two people and I was lucky to be one of the participants!

I flew to Washington D.C. to visit my son Joel, while he was there for a Fellowship program. We had already been to all the historical sights and monuments, both together and separately. We wanted to try something new!

About 90 minutes outside of D.C. in Maryland is a quaint area called Harper’s Ferry. Locals and tourists can get their adventure on and a few thrills too. From zip lines, to kayaks to white-water rafting and tubing, there are several companies that offer half-day and full-day outings.

Neither Joel nor I had ever been on a zip line and we were both a bit nervous. But outside of the personal accomplishment that would come with the achievement, was the bonding that comes from experiencing it together. Mother and son, a team of two, sharing in the same adventure at the same time.

He insisted I go first. I felt my “mom” instincts kick in just a little bit to forge the path and it was a blast. He was proud of me and I of him as I watched him zip over to the platform I was waiting at. And then we did it again. This time he went first and waited for me. What a sense of exhilaration we both felt! zipziphoorayWhite-water tubing was fun too and the rapids were not that extreme. But the current was enough to separate us a few times. I found that a little frustrating since our goal was to do this together. I also realized that my arms were not long enough to paddle effectively over the tube. Joel to the rescue! He tied our tubes together with a piece of cord that he took off my hat. Anyone remember the show MacGyver? Joel also paddled for the most part for both of us.

It doesn’t matter how big or how small the team is, there are benefits for groups of all sizes.

Here Are Three Nuggets You Can Take Away From a Team-Building Activity

Common Ground -When two or more people share experiences and create memories, it bonds them in a unique way. It will always be an event that has special meaning for them, one that they can reference back to.

Values – Most people knowingly or unknowingly judge others based on their personal values. It is the reference of our previous experiences that gives us our perspective. Knowing the base of another’s experience helps us to understand their perspective. Sharing in an event together allows you each to take your past and create a new paradigm together.

Trust – Our past experiences with others also shape our relationships with everyone else we meet. It is another point of reference. Sometimes we are rooted in those feelings, and if we are lucky, can remain open to new circumstances and form new beliefs. Experiences shared help create trust because you have gone through it together.

Discovering an aha moment from an event and sharing your favorite part of the experience creates a positive anchor and memory. Here is what I discovered on my day of adventure with my son.

Part of a being on team is learning what each of us brings to the table and lending our strengths to each other. I stepped up to go first on the zip line; Joel helped me navigate the white water. It made the day even better for both of us knowing we could rely on each other.

My favorite part – I absolutely love experiencing the world through my son’s eyes. But mostly, it was the joy of spending the day with him and deepening our connection through a shared memory we will always remember.

Scott McKenzie – He Had Us Laughing

Scott McKenzie – He Had Us Laughing

I need to laugh and when the sun is out

I’ve got something I can laugh about

I feel good in a special way

I’m in love and it’s a sunny day

Good day sunshine, good day sunshine, good day sunshine –

The Beatles

When we laugh, our energy is lifted. It is as though we are attached to a virtual helium balloon that pulls us up. No one knew this better or connected more deeply with others through laughter than Scott McKenzie, host of the morning show at Orlando’s Mix105.1

I had the honor of interviewing Scott in May of this year about his battle with cancer. What he shared with me appeared on both The Good Men Project and Talking About Men’s Health. In typical Scott fashion, he told me it wasn’t about him, but that he was honored to share his story to give hope to others fighting the same ferocious battle, in whatever form they had. He never wanted to be known as “The Cancer Guy” – but if there was something he could do to help others, he was there. Especially if it involved laughter!

“The treatments for cancer had changed so much in the seven years since this journey began,” he told me, and he was anticipating being accepted into a clinical trial that would hopefully knock this monster out of his fragile system. He had made a few attempts, but each one was unsuccessful as his blood counts were not strong enough on a consistent level to enter the trial. He made his last and final attempt in July, staying in Philadelphia for about a month then returning to Orlando to write his final blog post, sharing that the treatment was no longer a viable option. He went on to say he had also contacted Hospice and made his final arrangements. Fans and friends alike were shocked. Scott passed away a few days later.

The outpouring of love for Scott on his Facebook timeline, as well as Mix 105.1’s, co-worker’s, and even other radio stations has been no less than remarkable. Thousands of fans, as well as friends, family members and co-workers left heartfelt messages expressing their condolences, sadness, love and memories. There have been so many responses, shares and posts, that he became a trending topic, and for a short time, the number one trending topic in the nation. The Hashtag #OrlandoLovesScott has been seen on many posts. Many expressed that he felt like family to them. The photo that accompanied his passing on the radio station’s website soon appeared along the Interstate.

This humble, funny guy had a way of reaching through the radio every weekday morning for 24 years in the Orlando market, making drive time and the beginning of the workday fun for so many. He made everyone around him laugh, both on the air and off. It was a gift that he loved to share.

Many listeners commented that he was more than just the DJ on the radio; he was a friend and even family. Listening to the on-air tributes to him from co-workers, both former and current, we heard it reiterated over and over again how much the listeners meant to Scott and how much he loved going into the studio every day. Fans were delighted to hear Erica Lee, his co-host for the first 20 years as part of the tribute. Listeners also got to know through the years his family; wife Fran and daughter Lauren whom he spoke about often.

Scott was also heavily involved in the community and always willing to MC events that helped others.

His funeral expectedly was full of tears, but like his life, there were moments that included laughter. Stories that were shared about his life showed how deep the connections were he had with others as well as his zest for living every moment with joy. The impact he had on those he met, and those he never met, was spoken about again and again. Scott loved music (especially The Beatles), he loved his job, and he loved being in the studio and connecting with people. His presence in the Orlando community will be missed greatly.

Memorial contributions in Scott’s memory may be made to: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Children’s Miracle Network, and the Coalition For The Homeless of Central Florida.

You can read the interviews with Scott; his emotional story through May of this year on The Good Men Project and his medical journey on Talking About Men’s Health.