THEY SAID IT, I LEARNED FROM IT

“You got some or you want some?”

Communication facilitates the flow of information, ideas, beliefs, perception, advice, opinion, and instructions. It is the baseline for understanding. Learning to communicate better helps facilitate even the smallest of business transactions. And even the smallest transactions can teach us to be better communicators.

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Brett is my younger brother. I could say that he’s taller and better looking, has more charisma, was Mom’s favorite son, has more friends, and so on…but why state the obvious? We’ll stick with younger for now.

Oh…and he has always been a very good communicator.

Brett has consistently left no doubt about where he stands and why he stands there. He said things (not bad, just direct) to our parents that I never dreamed of saying (remember, however, he was Mom’s favorite). Of course, he never pulled punches with me either. Remarkably, he still takes the time to change his stance if he finds a better position.

I recall hearing his voice commanding me to “get in the car now!” somewhere near Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. It was two in the morning or thereabouts. Dad had been startled from his slumber and saw how fast I was driving. He challenged my speed. As a new driver, I took offense, pulled the car over, hopped out, and started walking. It has become an enduring (and embarrassing) scene. Dad got out, talked me back far enough for me to sit on the trunk, and tried to negotiate me back into the car.

Downtown Mouth of Wilson, VA

Brett was having none of that. There are times for negotiation and times for demands. He was convinced this situation — eight hours behind us and another half-hour to reach our destination — required his nine-year-old self to issue a challenge. His “Craig, get in the car now!” is probably still ringing through the hollers in that area. At the time, his approach was enough to check my sixteen-year-old ego. I slithered back behind the wheel.

Clearly, not all of Brett’s messages are that direct; however, he does love clarity in communication. As we’ve gotten older, I’ve watched him make sure that all voices are given a chance to be heard. I’ve seen him use communication to change his mind. He’s engaged and committed to conversation.

Several years after the car incident, we found ourselves in New York City during the Christmas holiday break. It was the 80’s, a difficult time for the city. Streets were gritty and grimy. Graffiti ruled the day. Homicides raged. Crack cocaine use seemed epidemic. Ever-shifting morals fueled an anything-goes atmosphere. The streets at night were far from desirable.

Shortly after leaving the Radio City Christmas show one evening, Brett and I were startled by a person who positioned his head between us and whispered one word: “Marijuana.”

I chose to ignore the intrusion and closed ranks, boxing out the unwanted visitor. Brett, ever the communicator, did the opposite. Spinning immediately, he faced the stranger and asked:

“You got some or you want some?”

The interloper quietly faded into the crowd. Although we never did learn whether he was a buyer or a seller, it was yet another reminder that communication is required for understanding. Brett, a master at the craft, wasn’t about to let someone (even an apparently down on his luck grifter) get away without trying to reach some sense of mutual accord.

1980's New York City

We often limit ourselves by our lack of effort in communicating effectively. Like the New York drifter, we don’t express ourselves adequately. The result is that we thoroughly fail to impress. Brett, on the other hand, has always encouraged exchange.

I look back now with admiration on the conversations he had with Mom when he felt strongly about something (like his complete disdain for spending long periods of time in the car). Those exchanges usually took place in the family room. He was clear, concise, direct, and honest. He was comfortable with silence. Both sides of the conversation included compassion.

For the longest time growing up, I thought Brett was demonstrating a lot of courage in his discussions with Mom. Now, I understand that he simply learned at a young age the power and art of communication. It has served him well both professionally and personally.

His talent has even made the nine-year-old who demanded I “get in the car now” a quite loveable younger brother.

As for me, I’ve realized I will never get that half-inch (to be fair, he says it’s a full inch) I need to be Brett’s height. I will never suddenly enthrall a hundred new friends. It’s highly unlikely I’ll get better looking (but I’m keeping hope alive).

On the other hand, there are things that I (as well as all of us) can change. Communication is an exchange worthy of our efforts. In business, doing it effectively impacts everything in a positive way.

When we see skills where people “got some”, we naturally “want some”. We have a desire to buy into what they’re demonstrating. Wanting it is one of the first steps to improvement.

Clear. Concise. Direct. Honest. We can do those things. Listening. We can do that as well.

Thanks, Brett, for featuring those attributes in your communication. It has always taught me to “want some” for myself.

Written by Craig Halsey

They said it, I learned from it is a compilation of lessons learned from the things I’ve heard people say over the course of my lifetime. It’s amazing what you can learn when you listen. Watch for They Said it, I learned from it every Friday in The Weekly Hodl. It’s perfect reading while you enjoy your second breakfast. Sign up today.

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