Lou Learns to Adult: Communication Basics!
Why does Lou need to “learn to adult”? This sounds like a silly question, and it probably is, but by answering it you’ll get to know more about me, where I’m coming from and why I need to learn how to adult at this age.
I was born a very long time ago in a small town in Ontario, Canada. My cousin, JP, was my best friend. We were born 40 days apart. He’s older. We even went to kindergarten together. And then we left that town and my best friend behind because my birth father, or “sperm donor” as I call him, was not a very good person. My Mom, older sister, younger brother and I moved a province over to a slightly bigger, small town in Manitoba, Canada.
I went to a Catholic elementary school for grades 1-6. I made many good friends and was quite happy. Then my Mom met my Dad (Step Dad technically, but he adopted us and raised us, so he’s my real Dad). Again, we packed up everything we knew and moved to a city a couple hours away. Keep in mind, computers hadn’t really been invented yet, so I didn’t get to keep in touch with all my friends on social media.
I had a sister join the family when I was 14 years old. She will never live down the fact that every time I babysat her, and told her to do something she would utter, “You’re not the boss of me”. Surprisingly, I still like her.
I struggled starting Middle School in a new city and a new school that happened to be several times bigger than I was used to, and I not so gradually took a wrong turn. It just got worse in High School. I made bad decisions and ended up dropping out of High School in my last year.
Luckily, a few years later, my Aunt went back to get her GED and I decided to join her. It turns out that I graduated from the same High School as The Man, in the same year. We just didn’t know each other yet. My GED classes were at night. And I was “significantly” older.
I got the odd job, mostly retail, and I actually enjoyed working with people. Even though a healthy portion of them did not play well with others. I had no desire to continue my education formally. At that moment. I lived with my then boyfriend and our cats. After my seven and a half year relationship ended when I was 25, I kinda crashed for a bit. But then I started to learn how to be alone, how to do things for myself.
Early the following year, I met my knight in shining armor, The Man, and he wanted to take care of me from our very first date. I had no problem letting him. It was hard to be an adult and I felt that six months of it was enough for me. We got married a year and a half after meeting (on a date that I had picked out three months after meeting). I went to college for “Studies in Special Needs Child Care” because I was passionate about those sweet souls. A few months later, The Man got a job offer in Oregon. We had to take the chance for an adventure.
An adventure it was….
I was a “Stay at Home Wife” for the first three years of living in Oregon. I didn’t have permission from the Government to work. Since it was the Government telling me that, I didn’t want to risk it, so I didn’t really do much work around the house either. And then I became a “Stay at Home Mom” and had a different excuse to not do much around the house.
Fast forward to twenty-two years later, and I’m wondering why I can’t do much for myself. This is not to blame The Man at all. He took care of me out of love and I let him out of laziness.
Maybe there’s something about seeing the big 5-0 looming in the not-so-distant future that makes one think, “What am I doing with my life?” It could be the fact that the kids are getting older and I want them to do more around the house. Or maybe it’s the constant arguing about someone not being able to rely on the other someone with important matters. Maybe. We may never know.
Either way, it’s time that I learn how to “adult”.
Let’s start with a topic that is very personal to me. Talking on the phone. I absolutely hate talking on the phone. Hate! At one point, the voicemail on my cell phone said, “Hi, it’s Lou. Are you sure you can’t just text me?” I hate calling my family just as much as I hate calling the IRS. No offense to them, but my family is crazy.
I think part of the reason is that I have a bad memory, so any time I talk on the phone, there is no record of it that I can refer back to. Another reason, and one that explains why I like to write instead of talk, is that I can’t think quickly on my feet. I need time to digest what was said to me and how I want to respond. I need to be able to edit my thoughts, and doing that while on the phone just leaves awkward silences. But, in order to be a grown-up I need to do this, so I will practice. Before I make a call, I’m going to practice what I want to say. I may even make notes.
Once you get up the courage to make a call, what are some ways to do it properly?
For example, if you are calling a business about a job that you just applied for, try this; “Hello, my name is Adam Adult. I’m calling to speak to the manager about an application I submitted” Sounds way better than, “Ummm, can I, like, talk to the manager”.
Another pointer, that I have to mention to my kids constantly, is how to answer a phone. Say, “Hello”. Could it get any easier? Even a quick, “Hi” would suffice. Stop picking up the phone (and for those in this century, pressing the button to answer the phone) without saying something!
Next up we should discuss communicating with people face to face. That tends to happen in real life, too. You need to make a good first impression when meeting someone new. When speaking with someone in person, do your best to look them in the eye. I know for some people it’s hard to do, but it’ll get easier the more you do it. Use a firm grip when you’re shaking someone’s hand. There’s nothing worse than limp hand. So gross. And stand up, for Pete’s sake. When they are speaking, listen. Don’t listen to interrupt and respond. Listen to hear what they’re saying. This actually goes for every time a person is speaking to you. When you’re with someone, a nice thing to do is to ask them questions about themselves. It’s not all about you. No one wants to sit there and listen to you talking non-stop. Trust me.
Now that you’ve practiced speaking to a real human in real life, the obvious next step is to speak in public. Yes, in front of a group of real humans. This is going to take a lot of practice for some people. Some people just have a natural ability to speak in public. Those people must be wizards. It’s just not normal. But we’re learning.
Step one, and I think the most important, for speaking in public would have to be knowing something. Please educate yourself on the subject. And then maybe learn a bit more, just to be safe. Practice what you know until you’re confident on the subject matter and what you want to say.
Hooray! You’ve survived your speech, now what? I’m sure you’ll be surrounded by many adoring fans. If you don’t know them, you can introduce yourself. It’s true. Look ‘em in the eye and say, “Hi, I’m Gloria Grown-up, it’s nice to meet you”.
What happens if you have two people that you know, but they don’t know each other? Don’t panic! Introduce them. There’s no stopping you now. They say that you’re supposed to speak to the “more important” person first. So, you’d have to say, “More Important Person, I’d like you to meet Other Person. Other Person, this is More Important Person”. But, that sounds so archaic. Maybe just pick the person you know the best or have known the longest and do it that way.
Now get out there and be a good grown-up!!
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