There’s an old book, film and musical entitled “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The title is old, but not outdated. At least not to me, as it relates to a 2018 experience. You see, a funny thing happened on the way to communication coaching. And the funny thing happened consistently.
To help individuals in a group become more confident in both public and personal speaking, I sometimes begin by making fun of myself. Self-deprecation can be an ice breaker. Then I transition to the “tips and tricks of the trade” using personal examples and a few videos. Without exception, all participants seem at ease and somewhat entertained. And then, almost without exception, the mood changes. That’s because it’s time for me to be the audience. It’s time for each class member to make their three to five minute presentation. (I ask the group coordinator in advance to have each participant come prepared to speak on a topic of their choice.)
That’s when the “funny thing happened.” The communication coaching turned into team building. Whether at the SIU School of Medicine or New Jersey USDA, I realized that each “student” was learning more about the other. Whether talking about a hobby or sharing a personal experience or presenting on a work-related topic or a family event, the class members honed their communications skills while visibly showing enlightenment about a co-worker. The following is confirmation from a participant of what I saw.
“I started out trying to get out of attending the training. Now I’m so glad I went. I found out a lot about myself (and my co-workers) and had a very enjoyable time in the process. We kept going long after the class “ended”. We were actually having fun.”
If you think your group or organization could benefit from communication coaching/team building this year, contact Colleen Callahan Consultancy.
There are lots of firsts in life. And commonly, after the first comes a second, and then more succeeding events. But for us, it was once in a lifetime. As the parents of an only child, our daughter’s wedding day was an occasion we will never repeat. Hosting the celebration at our farm can accurately be described as a labor of love. And the preparation can be defined as taking a village to complete.
It doesn’t seem possible that what took over a year to plan was over in a flash. But the video and pictures will forever preserve and refresh our memories. Thank goodness, because the pictures reflect what I missed by living in the moment. But it’s those same pictures that have made it difficult for me to write this…
I didn’t cry on Brittney’s wedding day, but I tear up every time I watch the video. And the tears reflect a variety of emotions, beginning with happiness. When I see Brittney’s and Zack’s smiles and laughter, I well up from their genuine expressions of joy. It truly looks like it is the best day of their lives, so far. When I see how much our guests seem to be enjoying themselves, I’m filled with pride and gratefulness. When I watch Dick give his father-of-the-bride toast using his classic sense of humor, I laugh out loud again and again. But when I look at pictures that include me, the emotion I feel is one that I did not anticipate. I look at those pictures, and I see my Mom. While many have always said that I look like my Mom and that Brittney looks like me, I have just politely acknowledged it. I must confess when I first saw the pictures, for a millisecond I thought it was my Mom! (And not just because I wore the same dress she wore at my wedding). In appearance, I have indeed become her. Yet it wasn’t the facial resemblance that’s stayed with me. No. It was the appearance of my hands captured by the photographer when I was tying the bow on Brittney’s wedding dress. While my nails were freshly manicured, my hands looked like I remembered my Mom’s…old. And the resulting emotions range from reminiscence and nostalgia to melancholy and reflection. Then when I look at the picture of Brittney’s hands, the one with the focus on her wedding ring, my thoughts change. And I feel a smile taking over my emotions, as I begin to muse about what Brittney’s hands will look like when she proudly ties the bow on her daughter’s wedding dress. Humm. Wonder if she will look like her Mom, too?
“I bit my tongue ‘til it bled.” My mom said that a lot! You never had to wonder on which side of the fence she stood. She was outspoken. My dad was firm and true to his convictions and opinions as well, but he was more of a diplomat. I like to think I am a blend of the two. And I believe each would be disappointed in me if I didn’t speak up and speak out about our current public discourse. No - I’m not headed down a political path here. I’m headed down the path of civility. That old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is not true! Words hurt. Words discourage. Words insight.
But words also comfort, reassure, unite. And sometimes, using no words (“biting your tongue”) is the best choice.
So as we begin a new school year and begin to shape a new generation of leaders, let’s remember and remind that “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”
Colleen's Kindergarten Portrait