Category Archives: Communication

Priorities


I’ve said it before to numerous people over the years, that you can’t take it too personally when someone else doesn’t put as high a priority to the thing that you put at a premium, be it an item, activity, cause, hobby, fandom, or other interest.  No two people are exactly alike and not everyone is going to have the same priorities as you.  While you may feel hurt in that discovery, it isn’t usually a rejection of you personally, even if it may feel like it is.

Sometimes though, it is harder to not feel that kind of personal rejection or hurt when you find that someone you thought had the same high priority as you on that thing actually does not, or at least does not in the same manner as you.  In those instances, it is very difficult to not take it as a rejection of not the thing you prioritize, but you personally.

(So here’s the part where if I was #vaguebooking I would say something like, “This post has no conclusion so that you can jump to your own.” Heh.)

Not sure I even have a takeaway here.  Maybe it’s “You do you,” or “Keep on keeping on,” or “Haters gonna hate.”  I’m unsure that those are all 100% relevant or correct.  Maybe instead the takeaway is to take a look at the man in the mirror and make a change, to paraphrase the King of Pop, though I’m not sure that’s entirely warranted either.

Maybe the point here isn’t for you from the standpoint of the person with the higher priority on the thing that feels let down.  Maybe the takeaway is that to remember that it isn’t a fun feeling when that happens to you.  Inevitably you’re going to be the one who doesn’t have as high a priority on a thing as a friend or coworker or fellow enthusiast, and you should be upfront and honest about things to help minimize that feeling they’re going to feel when they find out what they value so highly isn’t as important to you as it is to them.  So they don’t felt strung along, or devalued, or that their worth is somehow less than they believed it to be.  Because we’ve all been there at some point or another. A Scout is Kind, after all.

Unless of course you’re a narcissistic sociopath.  In which case, I bet you’ll think this post is about you, to paraphrase another famous pop star.

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words CAN hurt too.


I want to share a story about the power of words.

At the place where I work, we all get paid by direct deposit. What that means is that the company we work for submits all of our hours worked to another company who processes and puts our salaries directly into our bank accounts. This is done instead of getting a paper check or cash handed to us directly. It is a fairly common practice and with electronic time card systems for clocking in and out of work it is all done online.

A while back, sometime last year around the holidays, I arrived to work a little early to find a group of people who work for and with me very upset because their pay wasn’t in their bank accounts. Being perceived as a member of “management,” I had many angry questions made to me about why people didn’t get paid. I had just arrived and had no idea what was happening, so I said I would look into it. I logged into my online banking system and sure enough, no paycheck in my account either. It appeared that no one got paid that morning, which was our normal payday.  I figured it was due to the holidays and told everyone to calm down, there was probably a glitch or delay due to it being around Christmas and New Years, and that I would tell Human Resources when they arrived.

A short while later, my coworker from the HR Department who handles payroll arrived at the office and I told her about the problem. Several other employees also approached her to express their concern or that they were upset that they were not paid at the normal time. The HR person, who also had not been paid like the rest of us, said she would investigate the problem as she was unsure why this happened. She, like me, thought it was just some kind of delay due to the holidays.

She called the other company that is responsible for putting the money into our bank accounts to find out what was causing us not to be paid on time. By working together online and over the phone they discovered that we had not submitted the information properly. You see, the online system we use to submit payroll information to be processed has a box that must be checked saying “Verified.” If that box is not checked, the data can still be sent but the payroll company will not process the information, and the employees don’t get paid.  Unfortunately my coworker made a mistake and did not check the box before submitting.  She fixed the error, and everyone’s pay got sent to their bank accounts, but for some people it took an extra 1 to 2 days before they got the money in their account.

Now, my coworker was the only person who knew why the glitch happened.  She could have just told everyone that there was an error and she fixed it.  But instead she told the entire truth that she had made the mistake and apologized for it.  That in itself was pretty brave, and I admired her for that.

Some people, when things are different than what they expect, can get very upset. Especially when it means your paycheck isn’t in your bank account on time, because that can cause problems with paying your bills for your housing, transportation and food. When people get upset, they can say things that are mean and hurtful. And I heard many of the people I work with saying those types of things both to the HR person and about her to others.  But what good does that do?  The money won’t get into our bank accounts any faster.  And who has never made a mistake before?  Being in quality control, I had to deal with the mistakes that many of those peole made every day.

So later that day when I ran into the payroll person again, we talked and she was telling me about the error and that she had missed that one small item.  I said I knew a lot of people were upset, but that I understood we all screw up some times and not to worry too much about it.  She did what she could to fix the problem and it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I told her something along the lines of “Other people might be mad, but don’t worry about it too much.  It really isn’t the end of the world, and we all make mistakes.  I forgive you.”  And that was that.  Everyone got their pay and after a week or so it was forgotten about.

Fast forward to yesterday.  It was my last day working at that company, as I had accepted a new position elsewhere.  I was finishing up some paperwork in the lab and my coworker stopped by to talk to me.  Many of the people I work with had been coming by to see me and say their farewells, but something seemed different with her.  With tears in her eyes, she told me how much she would miss having me at the office, but also she told me that she remembered that conversation we had last year.  That it was probably the worst day she had on the job ever, and that I had said I forgave her.  That small phrase had made a huge difference to her.

And to be honest, I didn’t even remember saying it.  Who remembers every conversation they have every day months and more later?  But when what you say makes an impact on another person, they will carry that with them.  They will remember those words.

Do you remember something a person has said to you that was particularly not very nice, rude or mean?  Likewise, do you remember something that someone said to you that was very nice?  I bet all of us have examples of both.

This is the power of words.  Once you say something to someone, it can stick with them forever.  Both good or bad.  You can never truly take it back.  Even the smallest conversations or offhand remarks can have lasting affect.  There’s an old saying, “Sticks and stone can break my bones but words can never hurt me.”  But in truth, they can hurt, they really can.

Camp Like An Egyptian (#100DaysofScouting, Days 11-14)


Sorry to disappear for several days there, but I’ve been incommunicado.  I wasn’t abandoning my 100 Days of Scouting efforts, I was immersed in a totally new (to me) Scouting environment:  Girl Scout encampments.

I’ve stopped counting how many bag nights I’ve had camping as a Scout leader since getting back into the movement in 2006, but I’m sure I’m well over 100 by now.  But all of them had been with either Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts.  My oldest has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten and other than writing the checks for fees to camp and other events each year, I hadn’t been very involved with her program.  I always felt a little bad about that considering how much time I put into BSA programs with Jon in all the roles I do at the pack level and above.

So when Brandi (former Cubmaster for the pack, was my program director for 2008 Cub Twilight Camp in Springboro and is currently the Service Unit Manager for NOVA 449 of the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio) asked me to take a position as part of the service unit team as “Camping Coordinator” I agreed.  That was about six 8 months ago.  I helped with a campout last summer that ended up being about 10 people total, and then I helped give the CSA a presentation on Campfire Program Planning (I used the same course materials I taught at University of Scouting).  I also showed up to a couple of meetings and helped teach knots to some of the girls.  Overall, it wasn’t too much work but I was glad to help.

The first big event that I was drafted to assist with was the winter campout.  This is a pretty big deal, one of the larger events the Service Unit pulls off each year.  In 2010 there were about 85 total people there (campers, program aide’s [PA’s] and adults).  This year our attendance went up and we had 118 people registered (several no show’ed on us, I think about 113-115 actually showed up).

We held the event at Camp Stonybrook over on Route 73 near Waynesville.  It was the first time I had spent more than a few minutes at that camp, and it was very nice!  We had the dining hall and the two lodges that are grouped nearby (Pinetree and Ittman), as well as the Director’s Cabin nearby down the hill.  There were girls aged from 5 (Kindergarten) to 17 (High School).  They were divided up based on age and program level.  Daisies had one side of Pinetree and were one group.  The Brownies were broken into two groups (pink and yellow) and all stayed on the other side of Pinetree.  The juniors were also broken into two groups (Red and Aqua) and took half of Ittman, while the other half of Ittman were our PA’s and PA’s in training (Cadette and older).  The most experienced and mostly the oldest of the PA’s, our Leader PA’s (LPA’s) were in the Director’s Cabin.  Each area separate sleeping areas for youth and adults and there were adult leaders with them.  Being the only male in the entire camp, I got the entire dining hall to myself.  I also got my own special bathroom.

We started the event on Friday about 6:00 PM and ended about 3:00 PM on Sunday.  The camp-in (called a camp-in because they were sleeping in lodges not tents) was themed “Camp Like an Egyptian” and most activities were based around that theme.

I was really impressed with the whole experience.  And honestly, it wasn’t too much different than running a Cub Scout camping event for about the same amount of people, at least from the standpoint in what I was doing as Camp Director.  The biggest differences I noticed:

  • Camp names.  We use nicknames in my den, but each leader and PA had their own camp name that was used solely in place of their regular name.
  • Songs – Not that there aren’t songs at Cub Scout camp, far from it.  They were just different songs.  And some of them are STUCK. IN. MY. HEAD. three days after camp!

I personally had a great experience and was really glad to have been able to go and help out (or at least I hope I helped out).  The girls were great!  And the LPA’s really were on the ball with being in front to get done what needed to get done, if Brandi or I needed something we told one of them and they made it happen.  And everyone seemed to be okay with having a (big hairy) man there, and letting me throw in a couple of things I thought would be neat to do, like introducing the girls to the Order of the Fork!

So now that I’m recuperated from that event (being up dealing with issues until 2:30 – 4:30 each night will make you kind of tired), we are working on an online survey for the parents to take to use as feedback for next year’s event.

And then, after I get through Blue & Gold this weekend, we start planning the Service Unit spring camp-out (at Camp Hook in May).  And then the Pack campout in the summer as well.  I think I’m going to be criss-crossing ideas and ways of doing things back and forth, kind of using the best of both worlds.

This should be fun!

Error Code ID 10 T


So…this one isn’t really Scouty per say, although there is a lesson to be learned here.

Many years ago, well after I had left Scouting in my youth but before drinking the leader Kool-Aid, I was working at my job and among my many other duties I was the resident IT person.  Not officially mind you, but if there was a computer issue that could be fixed by me at my slave wage rather than calling in a contractor, it became my job to get it fixed.

And so it came to pass that someone higher up on the food chain got themselves a brand spanking new computer.  To give you an idea of the date range it meant they were upgrading from a pentium class to a PII (or possibly a Pentium III, I can’t remember at this point).  Anyway, in a show of how magnanimous said higher up was, they gave me their old computer to retrofit for one of the peons.  So I check around and find that the Receptionist / Secretary / poor girl who had to do most of the work for the Sales Director at the time was still running on a 486 machine.  And this is a year that started in 2-0 peeps!

So I take her hard drive and slave it into this “new” (to her) computer.  Not much else was worth saving.  But on her old machine was this old old tape/disk drive…thing…that said Iomega on it.  Not a ZIP drive which would have been the most prominent thing at the time from that company, but some internal thing that fit in a 5.25″ drive bay and hooked in like a HDD or optical drive.  I ask her, “Do you need the tape drive?”  Her response was, “Oh yes.  We put our backups on that every week, I have to have that drive!”  Crap.

And the search begins.  I know the drive is made by Iomega but this old proprietary thing is so old that they don’t even acknowledge the fact that they made it.  No support from them, nada.  And with no drivers (because heaven forbid someone save installation disks in this place), I’m kind of screwed.  This is definitely not plug ‘n play.  Eventually my Google-fu wins out and I find buried in some long forgotten section of some long forgotten drivers website what I need.  I am indeed the man!

Armed with my drivers, I get this monstrosity installed.  Sucks so much power I think the lights dimmed (okay, not really).  So I get all finished but want to test before I put the cover on the case, so I ask the nice secretary for one of her backup tapes.  And she hands me…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

(Wait for it…)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

…a 3.5″ Floppy Disk!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! KHAAAAAAAAAAAN! *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*  I could have burned through souls with the look of death in my eyes, and a tongue lashing on how much of my time was wasted over such a ID 10 T code error (put it together…ID10T) on their part would have been entirely wrranted.  Instead I just replied with an, “Oh, well that’s actually called a floppy disk not a tape, and your floppy disk drive is working fine now,” and went about my life.

So what’s the tie in with Scouts here?  Well, there are a couple.  First, is that when something like that happens and you want to MDK someone over an issue like this, just remember that A Scout is Friendly…and Cheerful…and Kind…and Courteous…and Helpful…and probably going to be having a beer after work that night (assuming they are of legal age and not going to be at a Scouting function with youth present).  Yelling at someone over what was on their part an honest mistake (we can’t assume everyone is a subject matter expert) doesn’t have any positive outcome other than the momentary good feeling for the person doing the yelling.  In the long run it just hurts feelings and can sour a relationship, which is pretty universally a bad thing when you’re talking about a coworker, or fellow leader, or Scout…

The second tie in goes to a subject that is universally near the top of the problem list in every Scouting group I’ve seen, be it den, patrol, pack, troop, crew, district, council, whatever:  communication.  Had I spent a few extra minutes talking to my coworker and asking her for a “tape” or what specifically she uses it for, I would likely have discovered that she just didn’t have a good grasp on the terminology 9and let’s face it, 10 years ago the amount of folks in the workforce who weren’t computer literate was pretty high).  So a little due dilligence on my part could have saved me 2 days of fruitless labor.  Because I just jumped into the job without first clarifying exactly what the requirements were, I added a bunch of extra work that wasn’t necessary.  So while in this instance the ID10T operator error was as much on me as it was the coworker because neither of us were communicating with each other effectively.  And how many times have you seem a problem at the den, patrol, pack or troop level come up because of miscommunication?  More often than we’d all like to admit I’m sure.

Is there a catch-all to fix that second issue?  If you know of one, please share with the class!
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