The Big Diehl

{blog of adam}

23 Mar

Stop Being Yourself.

Posted in Communication on 03-23-14

Let me first start by saying there are many times that “just be yourself” is the best advice. For example – going on a date or a job interview. In these situations, who you are is important for the other person to know right at the very beginning.

But “just being yourself” is not an excuse either. Here’s what I mean.

I’m selfish. I always have been. I came out of my momma crying for a blanket and some milk. That’s part of who I am. Does that give me freedom to be rude to you for the sake of “just being myself”? Of course not.

Our world today is extremely individualistic. We’re told at a very young age that we can be or do anything if we just put our mind to it. I remember PBS programs as a child encouraging me to “Be original” and to think for myself. I don’t have qualms with that.

But that same thought taken to the extreme leads to the increasingly common thought, “I’m proud of who I am, and I won’t change for anybody.” A popular song by Imagine Dragons celebrates this individuality with the hook, “I’m never changing who I am!”

Seriously? What about if you’re a slob, a jerk, shy to the point of avoiding any human interaction, overbearing, hurtful, abusive, or just plain rude? You’re happy with that? You’re proud of who you are and are unwilling to change for anybody?

It can be really difficult to see this in ourselves. For example, as an extrovert, I am inclined to rudely dominate conversations and be a little obnoxious. I can’t help that I’m an extrovert, but I can control my behaviors. So although I’ll never change that I’m an extrovert, I DO want to change my level of obnoxiousness! I shouldn’t use my extroverted temperament (who I am) as an excuse to be offensive to others.

Let’s have enough humility to recognize that we are all incomplete and be open to the positive influences of those around us (for the Christian, those influences may come from the Holy Spirit). We are who we are – but we can always be a better “us.”

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16 Aug

What To Do When You’re Frustrated.

Posted in Communication on 08-16-13

Why do we get frustrated?

I think its because our expectations aren’t being met. That’s all frustrations are — unmet expectations. We never call it that – but if you’re frustrated — somewhere in the situation is an expectation that’s not being met.

Whether we didn’t close a deal, had a waitress bring the wrong food, or having a clash with some family member — unmet expectations are FRUSTRATING!

It’s ESPECIALLY FRUSTRATING when our expectations are not being met by things that are out of our control. Like let’s say your crazy boss is ruining your life. You can’t change your crazy boss; you have no control over him! But we DO have control over how we handle our unmet expectations.

Here’s four options.

1) Cling to your expectations.
Sometimes our expectations are hills worth dying on. Sometimes its noble.

But it should never be the only choice. If we only cling to our expectations, we will STAY frustrated and never get beyond it. That’s not just frustration — that’s the making for a grudge! Grudges are stupid, and can often be avoided if someone just clarified their expectations.

2) Clarify your expectations
This step comes easiest when our attitude is focused on high assertion and high relationship.

For example… my wife and I might argue about the position of the window. I want it open. She wants it closed. If we are only considering these two opposing positions we’ll never resolve it. But it takes two to argue. With a high level of assertion and relationship, I might say, “Sweetie, I want the window open because I’m hot.” And then she might say back to me, “Oh my wonderful and amazing hunk of a man, I would prefer the window closed because I have allergies.” (We really do speak like that when we’re fighting… okay not really). Once our interests are discussed rather than our positions, the solution seems simple: Close the window and turn on the A/C!

But sometimes we’re in a situation where our expectations aren’t necessarily great expectations; in these cases, it might be better to modify what we’re thinking.

3) Modify your expectations
Expectations can be reasonable AND unrealistic at the same time.

Generally speaking, its reasonable but unrealistic to expect people to be passionate about the things you’re passionate about. God put that passion in your heart; that doesn’t mean its everyone else’s mission. For specific example, it is reasonable to expect everyone else to give towards the charity that you love so much, but unrealistic.

4) Abandon your expectations
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people that are stressed out about a temporary problem. Especially at night. It’ll be better in the morning, folks!

Often I need to abandon my expectations temporarily. If there’s nothing I can do about it today, I’m not doing anybody any favors if I keep it bottled up inside of me. I have to abandon it (and forget it!) until I’m able to actually clarify my expectation.

Other times, my unmet expectations aren’t that big of deals. Or they are completely outside my control and I can’t do anything about it. In these cases, I have to abandon my unmet expectations to my God. Turning it over to him and giving Jesus control is a great option.

I think this is what the Apostle Paul did when there was a jerk named Alexander the Coppersmith who really screwed Paul over somehow. Certainly Paul was frustrated, but he abandoned his unmet expecations to the lord when he wrote, “the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2 Timothy 4:14).

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18 Feb

My Advice to Anyone Communicating Anything.

Posted in Communication, Stuff About Me. on 02-18-11

A little known fact about me: I love the study of communication! I actually have a minor in communication – well not technically, but I have the education required to have gotten a minor in communication. This post is written to everyone who has something to say to other people. Whether your medium is twitter, blogs, books, music, print material, images, videos, public speaking, broadcast, or WHATEVER — if you feel like you have something worth saying, this post is for you. In this post, when I refer to “message,” I’m talking about whatever it is that you have to say. It may be “why people should donate to your group” or “why we should buy your product.” For many of us, our “message” is the life changing message of Jesus, which is why this is so important to me.

Myth: As long as I get my valuable message “out there” (typed, posted, mailed, published, whatever), it doesn’t matter how excellent it is. The people who want to hear my message will find my message and will diligently work to understand it regardless of the excellence.

This is absolute bull – at least for our fast-paced consumeristic society. If you remember one thing in this post, remember this: DETAILS MATTER! Let me prove it.

Do you live by the above myth? I doubt it. In fact, I bet that several of you have already scrolled down to see how long this post actually is to decide if you want to keep reading (keep going, it could change your life). Consider this example: if you find two websites or books with the same information – but one looks janky and the other looks professional, which one will you choose? Obviously, you’ll choose the more professional looking one (even if the janky one has BETTER information or service, you’ll never know it). The truth is, in our society, we do judge a book by its cover. We just DO. You can deny it and fight it all you want – but it’s the truth and until you accept it your effectiveness as a communicator will be hindered. This “details matter” philosophy trickles down into everything. Let me give a few examples, only some of which are hypothetical:

To the musician: So you think you have an important message or feeling to share through the art of music? Great, but remember that your excellence matters. Your lyrics could very well be life-altering, but if you sing out of tune the whole time or have a lousy mix, I’m going to stop listening. I will never get to your message unless you package it with excellence. (This is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THING than singing worship to God; that’s not what I’m talking about).

To the wordsmith: If you can’t bother to proof-read your message to ensure that you’ve fixed blatant typos (“Your” welcome to attend . . . ), undefined acronyms, insensitive colloquialisms, and major spelling errors (“chruch”) — DON’T BOTHER SENDING IT. Your message may very well be important, but in our world, people aren’t going to read past your laziness. Of course we all make mistakes like a misplaced comma or something, but I’m surprised at how often I see an OBVIOUS mistake. Sometimes I want to say, “Did you even read what you wrote?” Author, if you don’t bother to read what you wrote - why should I?

I have a brilliant friend who had written a great message in a word processing program. When he posts in Facebook, however, the line returns get all screwed up and he can’t seem to get it right (not his fault). He expressed his frustration with this malfunction and one of his subscribers said, “Don’t worry about how the page is set up. If someone is truly interested in the message, the set up makes no difference.” I disagree. If you have an important message, do you only want those who are willing to “suffer through” your message to hear it? Or do you want to make your message so clear, precise, and captivating that anyone who reads the first paragraph stays interested? Kudos to my friend for caring about the details.

To the videographer/vlogger: I’m going to be honest about myself here, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way. When I click “play” to watch your video, the FIRST thing I look at is the length of the video. If its longer than 60 seconds, I’ll give you about 15 seconds to spark my interest before I stop watching. The exception is if I have a reason to be watching it.

Also, if you ever export your final video without watching what you’ve done to see how it communicates to you, you are being lazy. I’ve seen some horrendous transitions and some massive spelling errors that make me want to say to the creator, “Did you even watch what you did?” If you’re not willing to, why should I?

Concluding Thoughts
If you put together your message but do not even give consideration for your “audience’s” experience, stop wasting your time. Just because you “got your message out there” does not mean that anyone cares, or even that anyone will receive it. Face it – we are a shallow people who never get past the “cover” of a book without a judgment.

Should it be that way? No, of course not. But it is. That’s just reality, unfortunate as it is. Until you accept that, your communication will be hindered. With the massive influx of information, only the best presented will be looked at (we can’t read everything!)

Having a good message is only step one. Step two is “sending” your message. Do it with excellence. Be proud of the way you communicate. Try to eliminate errors. Do your best to make sure your message is easily understood (not confusing). Do not assume people are LOOKING to hear what you have to say, demonstrate to them why your message is important. In other words, take your message to your audience in a way that is easy for them to get and is attractive. If you spend 30 minutes putting your “message” together, you probably need to spend double that making sure it’s packaged effectively.

By the way, before this post went live I personally reviewed and edited it 11 times, not to mention having someone else review it. When I read what I wrote, I often saw an error or a better way to communicate my idea. When I changed something – I always reviewed it again until there were no more changes to be made. I wrote this in about an hour, but I spent at least two making sure it was excellent. I worked until I was proud of what I had done.

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