Brenda’s Blog – August 19, 2014
“When Mama put on her lipstick, it meant we was going to town.”
The friendly woman told me of her rural upbringing as we visited before I spoke for her church group. She said most of their time was spent on the farm with a no-frills, no-nonsense lifestyle. We both laughed as she told me of her Mom’s clue. They all hustled to get going because they knew Mom was “on the ready.”
What signals do we send? In Glenn Beck’s book The Overton Window he described a young employee who glanced at her watch during her powerful employer’s remarks. When the boss stared at her, the room saw what time it really was… “time for her to find another job, in another city, in another industry.” His wordless look spoke loudly and clearly.
Years ago I went to hear Elizabeth Elliott speak in Dallas. My Mom attended with a friend. As I walked into the room, I saw her far across the aisles. Quickly I read her lips: “That’s Brenda!” Her smile told me of her love and gladness in seeing me. I often replay that scene and remember the sense of acceptance I felt.
At a formal dinner, I sat with two executives who questioned the choice of the new CEO. They bowed and scraped in his presence, but during his speech they caught each other’s gaze and exchanged rolled eyes. Those weren’t just clues – those were red flags. Not surprisingly, they were urged to pursue other career opportunities within the next year.
How clear are our actions? Do we confuse colleagues or family members by mismatched walk and talk patterns? Do we enable friends or associates to confidently and accurately read us? Is it possible to hinder communication with muddy messages?
How well I remember the decibel game with the children. They had an uncanny ability to know exactly when I hit the sound level they read as, “She means it this time!” Ratcheting up until obedience is inefficient.
Consultants cash big checks garnered by training others to read body language, word usage, and breathing patterns. They know how to play the game of Clue for People!
We all use the unspoken as shorthand. Let’s make sure it is consistent with our intentions and effective in its outcome. When we put on our lipstick, let’s be certain all those around us know we are going to town.