Friday, January 17, 2014

What Is Underneath The Talking Points, If Anything?

So I was surprised that my sister came to my mother-in-law's funeral.

I have missed all the family functions in New York. I just don't go there. Too much information as they say - once I leave a place I move on. 

But as much as I lean on my cognitive side to deal with life, that's how feeling my sister is. It would be unthinkable not to show up, and be there for me and for my husband.

It was just before she left that I thanked her one last time. We were standing outside my parents' car. My dad drove four and a half hours to get there by morning, and they were facing another similar drive back.

"Hey, thank you," I said. 

She replied softly, "I know."

She looked at me very closely. We were standing not a foot apart. I realized that I never really looked at my sister and knew little about her at all. Only vague and distant memories from childhood. Things like chasing her around the living room with a vaccuum cleaner and pretending it was a monster that would suck her up.

"You know me underneath all the brand bullshit," I said. "It's only you, and a few other people."

"I know."

"And you love me anyway."

"Yes, I do."

"And I love you just the same."

She got in the car and I found that I was crying again. Crying, really sobbing.

I guess I didn't know the real purpose of going to a funeral. You think about what the hell it is you're doing with your life.

And then the next day I was privileged to moderate an event in town, for work and for an organization whose mission I feel strongly about - promoting excellence in government communication.

It felt so odd to me to go from being a mourner to being a joyful host. I wondered how that could be anything other than false.

When it was time to start I began to read off the talking points. Gah! I hate TPs, they are so labored and boring.

That was why my voice shook. It was not at all me. The lie was making me nervous.

So I put the papers down and just spoke from the heart. About how much it meant to me to be there. I connected.

And thought about some advice a friend gave me months ago, about how to make decisions.

"Focus on what is real and clear and true."

Later I surprised a friend who worked in my previous agency and we chatted for awhile.

I noticed when she tuned out, and then back in to my words.

It was when I stayed with the talking points that I lost her attention, and vice versa.

And when we got to what was real and clear and true that the conversation became meaningful.

What I want to say is, of course you have to do corporate communication appropriately. 

But at the same time, there is little tolerance for B.S. anymore.

People just don't have the time, and it rarely adds anything to the conversation. 

In fact it tends to make the conversation worse, because now you have a layer of a kind of lying.

So don't be the expert, or the preacher, or the "best of all things" when you get out there and talk.

Just be yourself, and trust what is real within you.

Believe that the rest will follow.

Happy Friday everyone and I hope you have a good and peaceful weekend.

* All opinions my own.