Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday and I’m Mandy Wichert. Did I mention that I met my previously stated goal of getting back into my jeans? It’s a relief to have a lot more clothing options in my own closet again, and I believe if you aren’t learning, you aren’t living. In today’s episode I’m going to talk about tact and how to express what you know, without coming across as a know-it-all.
Today’s Fun Fact of the Day is: The word “nerd” was first coined by Dr.Seuss in If I Ran the Zoo.
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What I Learned Yesterday:
A few days ago we attended a really great birthday. A good friend of mine had a joint birthday party for her son and daughter, and our entire family was invited to celebrate. The party was for a mixed age group, and there were kids at the party ranging from age two to age 7, and there were probably around 30 kids total.
Did I mention that this party was also a surprise for my friend’s children? It was! They walked into a room full of their friends, filled to the brim with balloons and party food. Their eyes lit up like Christmas morning as they entered the room from outside to find all of us there yelling “Happy Birthday” and each of the kids eagerly scanned the room to see which of their friends were able to make it there to celebrate with them.
I saw something then that really impressed me. My friend’s son, who was celebrating his 5th birthday that day, eagerly walked up to each child at the party. He sought them out individually, without prompting, and excitedly engaged them personally. He greeted them with a warm hug and instinctively began telling them how excited he was that they were there and how much he had missed them. After finishing with one friend he would scan the room until he found another friend who had not yet been greeted, then he’d excitedly run up to them with a big hug and do it again. He was completely genuine and his excitement was contagious. Each child, stood around uncomfortably, not sure of this mixture of new people until he made his rounds, then the entire party came together and each child felt wanted and accepted. It was so great to watch.
Anyway, my friend organized the party like a champion and planned for someone else to take the brunt of the entertainment. She hired a local exotic animal park to come and spend some time introducing all of the kids to a variety of wild animals. The kids were thrilled to get to see exotic animals like a ring-tailed lemur, a chinchilla, an armadillo, an albino boa constrictor, a baby crocodile, a tortoise and a baby kangaroo among other things! Most of the kids attending had never seen such a great display of exotic animals before. The parents were pretty excited too. It’s not every day we get to be so up close and personal with such fascinating animals. My kids had attended one other party with the same animals, but I was sure it would be just as fun for them a second time. That theory held true, for the most part, but not without its hiccups.
The animal keeper had us sit around in a giant circle, then she proceeded to bring out one animal at a time to hold in the center of the circle, before allowing each child a chance to pet and even hold most animals. At one point, she held up a large green reptile. She instructed the children about the special way to hold this animal under his stomach and tail, and then asked the group if they knew which animal they were looking at. The kids all shouted, almost in unison, “A lizard! It’s a lizard!”. The animal keeper looked pleased, but she still had her eyebrows raised in question form, as if there was more she was looking for.
Then, a familiar voice popped up from the ring of children. “Of course it’s a lizard, everyone knows and can see that! She’s not asking if it’s a lizard, she want’s to know specifically what kind of lizard it is!” My son’s exasperated tone was easy to recognize, even though I was engaged in wrestling with my youngest to remain seated. The room fell almost silent, sort of deflated, but the animal keeper lost little steam and just said, “That’s right! Do you know what KIND of lizard this is? It’s a Bearded Dragon!, my son exclaimed.
As she was validating this title to the rest of the kids, I was frantically giving the “come here quickly” eyes to my son, along with with my hushed whisper command, “Come here please, now!”. He sauntered over to me, expecting me to agree with the absurdity of the situation with everyone thinking that she was seeking the answer of “lizard”, but instead, I explained to him, in as loving of a way as possible, that just because he knew the right answer, didn’t mean that he could be unkind in the way he shared his information with others. He was so confused, as he hadn’t intended to be hurtful, but that the answer seemed so obvious to him and he had assumed it was as clear to everyone else. Unfortunately, everyone else hadn’t seen a “bearded dragon” before.
I was a little embarrassed by his choice of wording and timing, and how his exasperated tone had brought the entire room to a screeching halt, but I also knew it was an innocent mistake that he had to learn sometime.
Later in my women’s bible study group, we discussed how people are naturally drawn to people with knowledge and enthusiasm. How these two traits make people instant salespeople and how these characteristics can make almost anything seem attractive. We were addressing how we as a group could go about living a life set-apart, but I was brought back to the birthday party. I told the group the story about my son’s lizard comment.
We discussed how in life we have opportunities like this to either hold information or share it with others. We also have opportunities to make others feel better for obtaining information or to make ourselves look better while diminishing them. It’s a fine distinction, but one that was so evident to me that day.
So Here’s What I Learned:
Having all the knowledge, without the ability to share it graciously and humbly, will not get you far. If you want to get your point across to a group of people and really encourage them to grow and learn, you must first learn how to deliver your message with tact. We are constantly selling ourselves and our ideas to others. I mean this in the sense that when we meet someone for the first time, or attend a group event or even hold a business meeting – we are hoping to exchange information, collaborate, motivate, or persuade the person we are talking to.
When we know we know more than someone in a particular area, are we quick to let them know it as well, or do we instead attempt to bring them up to speed and share our resources? Like iron sharpens iron, one good idea can often lead to another, and conversely, leaving a bunch of wounded soldiers laying around with bruised egos may not win you the respect you were hoping to achieve with your knowledge. Knowledge is only valuable if you are able to translate to others in an understandable way, what you know. So share what you know and help others!
I’m Mandy Wichert, and this has been stuff I learned yesterday.
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