Tag Archives: Facebook

I Don’t Know What to Say

4 Nov

A couple of months ago my mother passed away. I posted a short message to my friends on Facebook and was soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of messages of sympathy and comfort I received back. In difficult situations like this social media really comes in handy.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with an old friend about a year ago. He shared with me that he had heard that the wife of an old friend that we used to work with years earlier, had recently passed away. Neither of us had spoken with this friend for a quite a while, and, when I asked him if he had called to offer his condolences he said, “No, I haven’t but I really want to. But I never know what to say in these situations.”

This seems to be a very common occurrence. You don’t know what to say even though your heart feels the emotion you so want to express. It’s happened to me. In fact, when I was a younger man I almost always felt uncomfortable speaking with people older than myself and expressing my sympathies or just my concerns. Why, was that? I’m really not sure. But obviously I felt fear around it.

Maybe I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing. That would definitely get my face to glow red. Or, maybe I feared that whatever I said would be taken the wrong way. Then for days afterward I’d be beating myself up about what an idiot I was.

I remember once, I was on this board, and one of the members approached another and expressed his sympathies on the death of that man’s wife. I hadn’t heard that she died but I was afraid to even mention my sympathies for fear that maybe, since we didn’t know each other that well, my words would sound counterfeit and insincere. And so, to my shame, I did nothing.

As I’ve gotten older I realize how crazy all of this is. It’s was my crazy thoughts that were keeping me from reaching out to another human being with emotions that were both heartfelt and genuine. I learned to overpower my fear of doing this by just doing it. I learned not to be afraid of what to say. Just about anything you say will be greatly appreciated. I know because I have been on the receiving end.

But, if you need something to say try these. For a death: I am so sorry for the loss of your father. I know this is a very difficult time for you. So if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. For an illness: I am so sorry to hear about your wife’s illness. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I know you’re probably going to be stretched thin in dealing with this. So, if I can be of any help I would welcome your call.

With just the changing of a few words either of the above statements can be altered for any situation and give voice to whatever it is your heart is saying.



Why Are Asking Questions So Difficult?

19 Jun

We live in a rapidly changing world. Every day we read about some technological or medical breakthrough that only 20 years ago was considered science fiction. Mention 78, 45 or 33 1/3 and half your audience will stare at you blankly as if you spoke to them in some alien language. But mention the word networking and everyone will immediately know, (or think they know), what you’re talking about.

“Sure I network,” comes the response from a large percentage of respondents when asked, Do you network?  “I’m a master networker. I have over 1500 1st connections on LinkedIn and so many friends on Facebook that I stopped counting.” But when asked again, do you network; they’ll give you a look, which if verbalized, would say DUH?

Now I’m on LinkedIn and on Facebook and am not so old that I don’t communicate with my grandchildren on these platforms. But when I mention networking it’s the old fashion kind. You know the kind; where you’re participating in a chamber event, or a meeting of an association you belong to, or a Kiwanis or Rotary program. A live event with live people, who if you met a number of them, and they liked you, might, at some future time, provide you with an introduction or referral to your ideal prospect. Or, if you’re not a business owner or salesperson, someone who may open some doors for you to help further your career.

As you know, I am an expert on fear, and there is nothing more frightening then to walk into a room full of people, most of whom you don’t know, and walk-up to someone and introduce yourself. I think, given a choice, most people would opt for a colonoscopy live on national television with Katie Couric. But why? Why is it so difficult to introduce ourselves to another human being and carry on a simple conversation? Fear of course. But why do we feel this intense fear?

The fears we feel in walking up to a stranger and introducing ourselves stem from childhood. We fear rejection. We believe they won’t want to talk to us because we’re bothering them. They won’t like us because we believe were not interesting or worthy of their time. Or we fear not knowing what to say after we say hello. Now where did this garbage come from?

Well, like most fears they were given to us by mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, teachers, friends, and anyone that has ever made a negative comment to us. We never learned to ask questions, but instead were taught to answer them. And then, only when asked. We heard things like: Don’t ask so many questions. Speak only when spoken to. That’s a stupid question. That’s an important person, and they don’t want to hear from you. You should be seen, but not heard. You have nothing interesting to say. Stop stuttering and get it out. Cat got your tongue?

It’s hard to believe, but the negative things we were told about ourselves as children, and we accepted as the truth, would continue to hinder us 10, 20, 30 years later. It doesn’t make sense.

In my next blog I’ll teach you how to carry on a conversation with anyone, just by learning how to ask questions.

With Love,