I’m not a big fan of motivational quotes. As a matter of fact, I’m compiling a list of the most useless ones I’ve seen to date. Just a little something to look forward to. However, having said that, I’m going to now be a hypocrite and list some really great quotes here.
Why you ask? Well, I recently read the book, “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh and was taken on a journey of self-reflection. Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, has this uncanny ability to get right to the core of the matter. You see, we (you and I and every other egocentric human being out there) are such reactionary creatures. And with so much negativity in the world today, we tend to react in a negative way. Being creatures of habit, we don’t even recognize that we have negative responses anymore. We feel we are justified in our actions. We don’t even recognize that we help generate negativity that continues to encourage negative responses in others. The world is full of assholes, so I might as well be one too. It’s a vicious cycle.
But we cannot keep this attitude – not unless we want to dig ourselves an early grave due to too much anger, negativity, and stress.
It’s time to stop looking outward and start looking inward. As pissed off as I get at stupid people and their stupid actions, Hanh effectively slapped the humble back into my thought process. Well, that’s probably a terrible analogy since Hanh obviously supports a nonviolent approach to change. But whatever. I’m trying here and that’s the important thing.
So what does the Zen Master have to say and why did his book speak to me so clearly? It’s very simple actually. He got me to look at myself rather than everyone else. And he doesn't word it in a lame “be the change you want to see” kinda way. He gets specific. After reading this book, I began to make actual changes that have already had a positive impact. The most important lesson? I’m not expecting a change in anyone else…just myself, my attitude, and my perspective. And yes, I now meditate.
Does that mean I’m always going to be pleasant to be around? Hell no! C’mon. It’s me we’re talking about here. But I promise that I will try to act and communicate in a way that will nourish myself as well as others. This may not always be a pleasant experience though. I mean, we need veggies for nourishment and sometimes those are hard to stomach right?
I highly recommend this book for…well…everyone. Here are some of my favorite lessons.
1. “When you can see the suffering in others, you begin to understand that there is a reason they suffer like that. You are no longer angry with them anymore. Compassion will arise in your heart.”
2. “When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.”
3. “Sometimes even the most skillful words can cause pain. That is okay. Pain can heal. If your words are spoken with compassion and understanding, the pain will heal more quickly.”
4. “Every day we can say something that has the capacity to heal and help people…We don’t need to wait for a special moment.”
5. “When you produce a thought of hate, anger, or despair, that thought is a poison which will affect your body and your mind.”
6. “Deep listening has only one purpose: to help others suffer less.”
7. “There’s no place where deep listening and loving speech are inappropriate.”
8. “When we’re empty, we use technology to try to dissipate the feeling of loneliness, but it doesn't work. We have the Internet, email, video conferencing, texting and posting, apps, letters, and cell phones. We have everything. And yet it’s not at all certain that we have improved our communication.”
9. “Without mindfulness, technology can be more destructive than constructive.”
10. “If you can’t accept yourself – if you hate yourself and get angry with yourself – how can you love another person and communicate love to him or her?”
11. “Don’t neglect to reserve some time alone each day for communicating with yourself.”
12. “We don’t speak with compassion just so that the person or people we’re speaking to will feel better! Our compassionate speech has a healing effect on us too.”
13. “If we wait for the other person to change, we may spend all our time waiting. So it’s better that you change yourself.”
14. “So whenever we need to say something we know will be difficult for others to hear, we have to be humble and try to look more and more deeply to discover in what way we can talk about these things.”
15. “It’s important to remember that what you think is the truth could be your own incomplete or erroneous perception.”
16. “Our communication is not neutral. Every time we communicate, we either produce more compassion, love, and harmony or we produce more suffering and violence.”
17. “Our communication is what we put out into the world and what remains after we have left it.”
18. “You are what you do, not only what you do with your body, but also with your words and your mind.”
19. “Speech, the second form of action, can heal and liberate, or it can cause destruction and pain.”
20. “Communication isn't static. Even if yesterday you produced a thought of anger and hate, today you can produce a thought in the opposite direction, a thought of compassion and tolerance.”
I’m so tired of people. People suck. No really. I mean that. As I scroll through my news feeds and watch “informative” programming on the TV and listen to “unbiased” opinions on news radio, I really do come to a point where I literally could explode. But not from anger…from frustration. And it’s not because I disagree with the opinions. I can handle a good debate. As a matter of fact, I love a good debate. Let’s argue our viewpoints and listen to other perspectives. Let’s stand for what we believe and be open to challenge. Let’s be willing to try to understand the issue from another’s point of view, all the while deepening our own understanding as well. No. I’m not tired because of debate. I’m tired of people because they are hypocrites.
No wonder our kids are so screwed up. Those of you who complain about the moral degradation of our youth need not look too far to find the source of said degradation. Those of you who lament at the sad state of the world around us need not look too far to learn how we've come to this point. You see, on the surface we love to talk a good talk. We raise our children in this world that is full of different colors of skin, different languages, different beliefs, different values, and we (some of us) try to raise those children with an ethical sense of knowing the difference between right and wrong.
There are many little sayings that are passed down from generation to generation. These tidbits of knowledge are intended to serve as a way to help raise a child who will hopefully grow up to be a positive contributor to society. Someone who is just and kind. Someone who is caring and compassionate. Someone who can lead. Now who wouldn't be proud to say they raised that kid?
On the surface these little sayings make ethical sense. But kids aren't stupid. They don’t operate on the surface. At least not from the beginning. No, they learn from the adults around them how society truly works. Here are some examples of just a few of the nuggets of wisdom we pass on in the hopes of making a better society and how they are full of complete and utter bullshit.
***Article 3 of 3. After the Interview. This series is specifically for those who are either new to the workforce (teens and college students) or are returning to the workforce (stay-at-home parents) after having a significant period of time off. But even if you don’t fall into this category, you should find these tips for interviewing helpful all the same.***
Here’s what you’re probably thinking right now.
Strong eye contact. Check!
Killer, professional-looking outfit. Check!
Hand gestures under control. Check!
Good answers for all the questions. Check!
Whew! So glad I am done with that!
Whoa there slick. Not so fast! All of that prep time and smooth talking isn’t going to matter one bit if you blow it by thinking you’re actually done after answering that last question. Do not let your guard down, I don’t care how nice the interviewer is being right now. Because guess what? You ain’t done yet! Not by a long shot. Here are two very important final steps you have yet to complete. And if you don’t do well in these final steps, you probably shouldn’t have even bothered showing up for the interview in the first place.
1. Do You Have Any Questions for Me? – Just about every single interviewer wraps up the interview with this question. If you want a fast way to completely erase all of the great progress you’ve made so far, then answer this final question with a simple, “No.” Translation? “I really have no interest in this job or what goes on here outside of getting a paycheck.” Congratulations! You just earned your place in the “Do Not Hire” column! To avoid having your name thrown into the recycling bin, take heed. I’ve compiled some simple questions and translations below.
Avoid asking any of the following:
If your goal is to NOT get the job, then you will absolutely succeed by asking those types of questions. Not to mention, you came here to get a job, but don’t you want to know if this is even a good place to work? Don’t you want to know if this is a good fit for you? That’s right. It’s your turn to ask the questions that will help you decided if this is a place where you want to come to work every day. You are much better off asking questions like these:
Of course there are many more questions you can and should ask before you wrap it up. Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes writer, offers even more examples in her article, "30 Questions You Should and Should Not Ask in a Job Interview." The bottom line, don’t stop here! Keep doing your homework!
2. Give Thanks – Yeah, of course it’s important to shake hands and make good eye contact and smile and all that jazz at the very end of the interview. But ending with a solid “Thank you for your time” is not what I’m talking about here. This is more about follow-up. Don’t think of this as a check-the-box exercise like sending out a thank-you note for the fruit cake you got from Aunt Mona over the holidays. Think of this more as an extension of the interview itself. This is an important distinction. I don’t call them “thank-you” notes. I call them “follow-up” notes.
Now, depending on who you ask, some experts will tell you to send your thanks via email to the interviewer. Others, will recommend that you send a typed-letter via snail-mail. What’s the difference? Really, the difference is all a formality. So, take your cue from the type of company and the experience of the interview itself. For example, is the company’s culture less formal? Did the manager contact you and set up the interview mainly by using email? Or did you get a more formal invitation either by letter or perhaps even by a phone call from an administrative assistant? Simply mirror the formality of the follow-up letter based on what you experienced. A less formal environment and manager will probably expect an email. A more formal manager will probably be more appreciative of a typed letter.
Regardless if you decide to send an email or a typed letter, every follow-up should be tailored to the audience who will be reading it. In order to tailor your message, make sure to include the following in each letter:
Oh, and don’t forget the support staff. Perhaps the administrative assistant worked with you to set up the interview day and time, or an employee gave you a tour of the facilities, or a group took you out to lunch as a part of the interview. In these instances it’s entirely appropriate to send a handwritten “thank-you” note or card. Not only will they appreciate the sentiment, but it doesn’t hurt to have them in your court when it comes down to decision time for the boss.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
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