What’s Your Thing?
I talk too loud. It’s been that thing I do that I wish I didn’t do for as long as I can remember. From the time I started putting words together my mother would tell me, “Kimberly, modulate your voice.” I think I am probably the only person on the planet who knew what the word modulate meant at two years old. I’m so proud.
I remember having to take a call not long ago while navigating NYC on foot. I was talking on the phone, walking along the sidewalk, and I must have been talking too loudly as a woman passed me and shot me the look of death.
The nice thing is, I’ve been able to be more mindful of my loud-talking-thing as I have an nine year old. Nine year olds are wondrous creatures who will immediately let you know if you are doing anything that might remotely embarrass them. They don’t worry about how to tell you or when to tell you. They don’t have an agenda. They don’t worry about hurting your feelings. They just tell you like it is. I can be in the grocery store simply asking a question and he will tell me right away, “Mom. You’re talking too loud.” Got it.
The other great thing about having an nine year old around is that they model talking-to-loud incessantly, which is a great way to learn the impact it can have. I cringe when I hear myself say, “Jeremy, modulate your voice.” (Did I just say that?)
Now, talking too loud isn’t a huge deal. It doesn’t make me a bad person. But since it is something that can definitely get in my way of connecting with others, it’s worth working on. And since few people in my life are as brutally honest as my mother and my nine year old, I’ve found wisdom in heeding what they say.
The reason I “out” the thing that I do, is that we all have a thing. Since none of us human beings gets to be perfect, there are things we all do that get in our way of connecting with others. We just all have different things. Some of us smack our lips. Some of us don’t make eye contact when we talk. Some of us give one word answers to everything. Some of use the word “like” like a million times in a sentence and it’s like super annoying. Some of us monologue and don’t ask others questions about themselves. Some of us feel the need to give every little detail when we’re sharing a story, so much so that we lose our audience before we ever make our point (and then I woke up….and then I got a glass of water…and then I walked to the door…).
Look, I don’t care about being perfect (says the recovering perfectionist), but I do care about connection. If something we’re doing is getting in the way of truly connecting with others, then it’s worth working on. Because it doesn’t matter how smart we are, how talented we are, how attractive we are, or how fancy our title, if we can’t connect, we can’t lead.
And if you can’t figure out what your “thing” is? Ask your mom. Or your kid. Or any kid. They’ll tell you.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (originally posted in August, 2013)
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Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying!