Now is the time of year when packages are delivered to homes all over the world. Children eagerly anticipate Santa delivering a bag full of toys and envisioning them nestled under a warm glowing tree. But that is not the kind of delivery I am talking about.
I’ve shared with many audiences and in my writings how Louie behaves when anyone enters my home—he’s not very nice. In the seven years I’ve had him, he has never experienced someone coming to the door and creating havoc of any kind. His protectiveness is overbearing and honestly, quite unnerving. Especially since I love to entertain, though in this year of pandemic, that has all changed.
Last summer, I decided to have Louie settle in his crate downstairs in my family room while I entertain. Removing him from the situation seemed the best choice for him and for me. This worked great, until Louie figured out there were people in the house and started barking. With enough music and chatter he’s not too disruptive and doesn’t take long to settle down.
One group of guests had hope to meet Louie. I kept him in his crate while weate dinner and then brought him upstairs to meet my guests afterward, out on the deck. As soon as I opened Louie’s crate, he headed up the stairs panting for me to open the door to the first floor. I gave him the command to settle, but as soon as I opened the door, he flew past me, barking and scampering across my wood floor barely getting any traction. He slammed into the deck glass door, barking, snarling and growling the whole entire time.
I grabbed him and told him to settle again. As I opened the door, he zoomed out on the deck. What happened next was astonishing. He was so excited to see everyone and made his rounds whining and wagging his tail, lapping up the attention. Everyone was pleasantly surprised he did not act like I warned them he would AND that his actual entry was different than how it might have been given his barking and snarling through the glass door.
This gave me PAWS as I thought about how our delivery effects our message. We may have great advice or ideas to share, but if our delivery is gruff and abrupt or even condescending, the message will not be heard, no matter how many times we share it. People will often say, “Oh that’s just my delivery.” I guarantee when those words are uttered, whatever message was shared, was not heard.
The next time you have an important message to share with someone, be aware of your delivery. Before opening your mouth, practice the PAWS method:
1.PAUSE: There is power in the pause. I’ve never regretted my pauses, but too often, I have regretted my words.
2.ASK: Ask questions to better understand if the person is ready to hear your message. It’s not always about you, and though you may have information you think someone needs to hear, perhaps you can ask a question that opens the door to greater understanding
3.WISDOM: Choose your words wisely. When we speak from a place of wisdom, people are more inclined to listen. Carefully consider the words you are about to say. If they are not life giving, do not say them. Nothing good comes from useless, mindless words.
4.SEEK TO UNDERSTAND: Why are you sharing the message? Do you understand the other person well enough to know if they need to hear it or do you have a need to share it and impress others with the knowledge you believe you have? Stop and seek to truly understand how your words will help the other person.
The PAWS method has helped many leaders step back and assess whether or not they should share a message. This Christmas, many family members and friends could benefit from us practicing the PAWS method as we celebrate. Be kind in words and deeds.
As for Louie, there is no pause button. It is full on, deliver the message with as much gusto as possible. Worry about scaring people later. That’s my Lou!