If / Then – What is Communication?

Communication can mean different things to different people, and sometimes your definition changes depending on the circumstances. Communication is really about being present with the one you are with or the group you are in front of. Be in the moment and act out of that moment rather than how you think you should act based off from a previous similar event. Each moment is a gift for us to experience and truly be who we really are. Listen to the truth of the feelings you have and act – get out of your head and be true to what you already know.
The following is the next segment in a paper I wrote about decision making.

Dwight Raatz

What is Communication?
Some people would answer the question, “What is communication?” by saying it is the act of speaking to someone in order to convey an idea. Does this sound reasonable to you? I would say that while it is important to speak as part of communication, it is only part of the process. What is more important is listening. Unfortunately, we are not taught this skill when we are young. We go to school and learn how to read, write, and speak, but I don’t remember ever having a course in listening do you?
I challenge you to take the time to listen to someone fully. What does this mean? It means that you should do the following things when someone it talking to you:

  • Stop typing
  • Don’t look at your phone display if it rings
  • Don’t look out the window of your office or the building
  • If you are expecting an important call, warn the person before they start talking
  • Look directly at the person, preferably at their eyes
  • Repeat a paraphrased version of what the person said to make sure you understand what they said; especially if they are requesting something or if it is a complex issue
  • Take notes if the person has come with several concerns, this will show that you want to make sure you don’t forget any points.
  • Clear your mind of what you have to do next. Better yet, set expectations with the other person as to how much time you have at the start of the conversation.

< continuing next time with “Motivation”>

If / Then – Problems and the Past

The following was originally written January 30,2005 shortly before I left employment with a company that was growing rapidly and having a lot of “pains” during this process.  Some of the reasons I left were related to the political turmoil within the company at this time, but I also left to pursue another job opportunity.  The majority of this topic is around communication and perhaps a better way to go about it.

~ NOTE:  Names have been changed to protect privacy…

Dwight Raatz


  • If we only had more people then someday we would be able to accomplish all the things we need to do.
  • If only “they” would listen to what we are saying then “they” would understand what we are faced with.
  • If only my manager was more proactive then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.
  • If my staff would only see the big picture then they would understand why I make the decisions I make.
  • If only I made more money, then I would be happier with my job.
  • If … then …
  • If … then …

Problems and the PastI would like you to consider something; consider the possibility that Starling has no problems.  Take a minute to just let that rumble around in your thoughts…

Okay, now that you gave it some thought, you are probably fairly certain that I am being unreasonable.  You are probably saying, of course Starling has problems, just look around, there are not enough people, we don’t get enough done, etc, etc.  So, where are these problems?  When you go home at night, do you gather up all your Starling problems and tuck them safely away in your desk drawer so you can have them tomorrow?  Or maybe there is a vault somewhere that keeps all the problems so no one can lose them?  Consider that each of us creates these same problems each and every day out of the words we say and the actions we take.

Have you seen the movie “50 First Dates”?  This is a story about a woman who had been in an accident as a young girl and had a brain trauma that made her lose her short term memory each and every day.  Every day when she woke up, she only remembered how life was before she had her accident.  Imagine what it would be like if you were to come to work every day unfettered with the problems created the day before?  Imagine looking at each day with only possibilities to create something out of nothing each and every day.  You could attack each and every issue with full force and passion.

Now, I’m not saying that you just forget what you have done in the past.  I am saying that you should use the past as a sort of library.  Something you can reference and select information from to help you move forward.  But that is were the past should stay, in the past.  Consider a library; there are stories in this library that span the history of the world.  Just because they are there, doesn’t mean they will happen again or that they still exist?  But we can certainly learn from those stories to shape the future that we want and choose.

In the movie “50 First Dates”, there was a guy who fell in love with the woman I mentioned above.  At the beginning, he was struggling with how he could change the situation or environment so that she would fall in love with him.  He was trying to find a way to change her when it was impossible.  Finally, he realized that he needed to accept her the way she was and that he was choosing to create a new and wonderful life with her each day.  Can you imagine taking that same passion and applying it to your career right now?  Imagine going to work each day with the thought of creating new possibilities of success and fulfillment.  What happened on a project or with a manager or a peer or a staff member is in the past.  Today, right now, has never happened before and you have the power to make it a rerun of yesterday or to create something that has never happened before.

< continuing next time with “What is Communication”>