Can you see lying?

Last week I had lunch with a friend and we talked about the ability to read people, specifically the ability to tell when someone is lying. I wondered after that discussion what clues might ‘show’ a person is lying. Apparently Sherlock Holmes, who was a fictional character created by Sir Conan Doyle, had the ability to use small subtle clues to make large observations. Funny how we cannot ‘see’ certain things, yet Sherlock presumably, could see these clues. Why can’t anyone tap into this ability if they really focus?

The clues can be small – like a blink, a look, a hand gesture, or even a change in their voice tone. I imagine most people can see, hear, and experience the signs, but not all of us process this data in the same way. I imagine two people who look at the same exact piece of paper, but one has 20/20 vision, one is using binoculars, and the other has red-green color blindness. Something tells me what they ‘see’ would be different.

When someone comes to you with a problem, remember they may not be ‘looking’ at it the same way you are. Think of ways to embrace the viewpoint differences. You may need to help educate others to see what you can see. What at first they see, may not be all that is possible and maybe it just takes some practice to improve their vision. Maybe like Sherlock Holmes we can all learn ‘how’ to see subtle clues that tell us some important information. Oddly the best tool for learning, may be learning from each other. Is that what you see?

Blunt Egomaniacs Befriend Me

I have a new job! It is exciting yet scary. The idea of working for a new company and a whole new group of people is uncomfortable. I know this is true for everyone starting a new job, but how many people are hired over the phone never having met their coworkers in person? Maybe this happens to more people than I realize, but it is the first time it happened to me. At least social media tools like LinkedIn provided me a glimpse of my new coworkers.

The idea of adjusting to a new work environment made me reflect on the first days at my last company where I met a lot of new people. Each day new friends were made as coworkers bridged the gap and appeared on my Facebook or became my buddies to hang-out with on business trips. For some reason it seemed like it took a long time to get to know each person as well as a whole new culture.

Specifically, I am talking about Israeli culture. Working with a large team in Israel and numerous Israeli’s transplanted to the U. S., avoidance was impossible. At first I thought they were blunt (sometimes rudely so). I thought they had no feelings or were mean. They were very emotional and somehow right about everything (at least that was always their opening position). After spending more time with these blunt egomaniacs I discovered something surprising.

Under the harsh and often scary exterior were smart, caring, and compassionate people. Sure, they would disagree with you on, well, everything! I stopped counting the number of times I was enraged or irritated. In the end though, we seemed to just ‘get over it’. I can say that I always had to be at the top of my game, because this was the smartest group of people I had ever worked with. I loved working with them even when they felt like a thorn in my side. So at times, voices were definitely raised (as is normal with Israeli’s) but in the end it didn’t matter because we had a level of respect that transcended the yelling. Eventually yelling was not needed. Had they “Americanized” or had I “Israelized”?

I was sad about leaving my Israeli friends behind at my last company, but at the same time I felt fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture. No one can take that away from me. From any job there are takeaways – bonuses, paychecks, a 401k and eventually maybe a retirement or severance check. I like to think that I left with something much more valuable – friendships and cultural understanding. I can only hope for as much at my next job.

Where is our sense of Community?

Yesterday as part of my job hunt I attended a local nonprofit group event called Southwest Job Network that was held at Temple Chai (yes there are Jewish people in Arizona). There were a number of people there for the new member orientation (those who were newly unemployed or just new to events with this organization.) Right away I felt negative vibes. I was sensing anger and frustration from many of the people. Maybe I am weird because I am so upbeat about everything so it was hard for me to see myself in that place, that place called “negativity-land”. I wondered if this is where I would end up if it took me 9 months or a year to find a new job despite additional education, training, resume rewrites, and interview coaching. I was trying to stay positive in place that at that particular moment seemed overwhelmingly negative, which to be honest is expected when people lose their livelihood and often their identity.

The feeling changed as soon as the guest speaker came in. The speaker at the event, Bill True discussed “Shame-less Self-Promotion”. I really loved his presentation. Anyone who gets the opportunity to see him speak should take the opportunity. I walked away with the idea that people like to ‘volunteer’ versus being told what to do and hiring managers like to hire people who are also selfless. It made complete sense and really goes against so many things being taught to job seekers. Managers are people and they want to hire people. Real people not robots!

From a personal perspective I recognize that I would want to hire the person who would do whatever it takes to make a project successful and not just a person who met all the qualifications. I want the person who would volunteer to clean the bathroom or take out the trash (if those were actual job duties) because the team has to work toward the needs of the greater good . No, not just the company greater good, the team! Team is the family you call co-workers, or something called community. (Hey, as the leader I will also take out the trash!)

I found it strange that I had to lose my job to see the loss in community all around me. I like to believe that every one of us has something to give or something to share. A kind word, assistance with a resume, a job lead, or even helping a person cross the street. Where has chivalry gone? (This isn’t just directed at men, it applies to women too.) The random acts of kindness are rare but cherished. What are you going to do to help someone today?

Caution, movies may cause adrenaline overload!

The new Robin Hood movie advertisements made it look like a Gladiator remake, but I agreed to see it as part of my Father’s Day present to my husband. To my amazement the fight scenes appeared in the movie theater, not just on screen.

In the theater, I was the lucky one sitting directly behind someone who had issues with their seat. Apparently the girl’s seat kept her upright and she couldn’t lean back comfortably. Her and her date kept looking back at me as if I was doing something to the chair, when I wasn’t even touching it. This made me think about how, any time you see a movie in a theater you expect that things may not be as perfect as your living room. Your feet stick to the floor, popcorn containers left by previous viewers cause you to stumble, and even though you arrive early to the theater for the perfect view, a tall guy always comes in at the last-minute blocking your view and leaving you no time to change your seat.

The Robin Hood movie definitely provided the promised adrenaline rush, but maybe more than my body could handle. I believe subconsciously a portion of my brain was activated that is not typically used. I am normally calm and easy-going, but this movie pushed me to a state of ‘fight or flight’.

Over two hours into the movie the woman in front of me turned around and said angrily, “Miss, will you stop kicking my chair!” I guess I was pretty annoyed at that point, what with the high adrenaline and the fact that I hadn’t touched her chair the entire movie. At that point I was mad for being accused of doing something, that I hadn’t done. I had a knee-jerk reaction (literally) because I kicked her chair so she could see what it would be like if I had kicked her chair during the movie. I am not a fight picker (at all!), so this is why I thought I was under the influence of adrenaline.

The girl stood up in the middle of the theater during the most exciting part of the movie and yelled at me about the chair. I can’t even say what she said – too much profanity. Somewhere in there she wanted to ‘take it outside’ to fight me. At that point I came back to reality and told her to ‘calm down’. Her behavior was not going to make me respond – I have two kids, so I am immune to the yelling. I think I shocked her with a lack of response, because she finally sat back down.

I realized my behavior was completely childish and out of character, but how much had to do with me, and how much had to do with my adrenaline overdose? I admit I can have a temper at times, and kicking her chair was a mistake, but at least I didn’t stand up in the middle of a crowded theater yelling at people. In the end, I felt sorry for her because I felt bad I had kicked her chair that one time and that instead of just letting go of her issues with the chair, she had to blame it on me. I just happened to be in the wrong seat at the wrong time. I decided a few things after this incident: 1) don’t watch adrenaline-filled movies at the theater (just watch it at home), 2) when someone accuses you of something you didn’t do -just ignore them, because nothing you say or do is going to improve the situation and you never know, they could be clinically insane.

Power of the Pen…

It amazes me how two people can express themselves so differently in writing, than they do in person. Why is there a discontinuity between the ‘real’ and the ‘writer’? Somehow the ability to communicate verbally causes people to trip over their thoughts. If they only had the extra time, then they could put together their ideas without the distraction of visual and audio stimuli. Then, maybe the two types of communication would be more similar.

I was watching “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949) with Judy Garland and it had a distinct similarity to the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” (1998). Later I discovered that both of these movies were remakes of the original movie, The Shop Around the Corner” (1940). I found it interesting to contrast the 1940’s hand-written letter communication to the modern-day e-mail, with the same kind of result.

These movies depict two people who disliked each other in person, but who fell in love through writing. I wonder how often people miss their perfect match in daily life for the same reason? They only see the ‘live’ version and not the letter-writer. Two people can be together day after day communicating ineffectively, yet two people living miles apart with no face-to-face meetings can create a very close connection through their writing. It is now clear to me why love letters of the past were so powerful. Who are you going to write a letter to today?

Are you a turtle or a bird?

Communication happens when people can express their feelings without fear. I can do it. Can you? If you can’t, why not? What is preventing you? Are other people really that scary? Sometimes I wish people could be more open to discussion. Even to argue. Instead, people often crawl inside a shell and hide like a turtle.

The safety inside the shell seems nice until you realize that you are alone. If you don’t come out, you will remain alone. This is your choice. I am out of my shell, and in fact, I think I lost my shell completely. Where did I put that anyway? It doesn’t matter because I don’t need it. I have transformed into a bird – my wings are open and I am soaring above the ground. Sometimes I wonder if armor, like a shell, is just to keep people out. Are we really just keeping ourselves in, thereby preventing life? What exactly are we protecting anyway?

Relationships don’t happen in a shell because they will soon die. Even a turtle needs nourishment of some kind. How are you staying alive if you are stuck inside your shell? Are you really happy in there? Is this what you want and need? Don’t you want to live, to love and just ‘be’ instead of withering away in a cramped up space literally inside yourself? Really, your shell of fear is the only thing standing between you and your happiness. What will it be? Do you want to be a turtle, or something else?

Victim or Hero? You decide…

As I look out at the swimming pool, the tiny ripples on the pool look like life – which is never smooth. There are always things – bumps in the road, ripples in the pool, lumps in the oatmeal that disturb our ‘perfect life’. How do we deal with these things? I guess it depends on the size of the bump or the ripple. Did your car just fall into a pothole? Is there a tidal wave rising in the sea as you sit on the beach? These big events are tough to deal with, but really, shouldn’t we try to cope with these big disturbances with the same ease as the small ones? We can choose to be angry with our circumstances, or instead rely on our inner strength – our ‘selves’. The inner strength lets us absorb the world around us and move on – to live another day.

The victim sees the bumps and ripples as bad luck, where the hero sees them as an opportunity. Sure, we can feel disappointment that our car was totaled in an accident or our leg was broken during an amazing ski run. It doesn’t change the fact that we as humans can decide how to respond. WE choose what we do. WE choose how to act. WE choose to accept where we are and just keep on living. Although so many things are beyond your control, the one thing we can control is our response to life’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Who do you want to be the victim or the hero?