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“Why did you pivot to add children’s books to your list of published works? It seems as if they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum,” asked a new acquaintance on LinkedIn.
“Yes, I can see why it appears as if business books and children’s books are on ‘opposite ends’. However, whether it’s the business books I write and the consulting and training I’m doing, or it’s the children’s books and the interviews I’m giving on parents and bonding with children, they all stem from a place of FEEL. Looking inward and managing your own feelings, helps you to connect, better understand and be receptive to the feelings of the people around you. Feelings and how you communicate them are at the core of every relationship.
We ended the conversation with my new friend and colleague wanting to check out all my books. I was happy to tell her that we’ve added a new one to the growing list!
So here it is …
‘Grandpa Don’t Worry: Another Whisper from Noelle’ was released by Outskirts Press on June 6, 2021.
The book, Grandpa Don’t Worry, takes Noelle’s whispers even further than before. If you’ve read our first book in the series, “A Whisper from Noelle,” you would know that an Angel, named Noelle, is whispering to the main character, Ashley-Ann. These messages help Ashley-Ann to learn what it means to feel and to discover important values that will shape her life. Ashley-Ann shares these messages with her mommy.
Tuning into to the whispers and exploring what it means to feel, including what to do when you’re afraid, what it means to be kind and caring and to trust others, and to be true to yourself, are all cornerstones of our 1st book.
Grandpa Don’t Worry exemplifies what it means to be empathetic. Through Noelle, Ashley-Ann learns what her grandpa feels and why he feels strongly about certain values or Loving Lessons. In the book, Ashley-Anne moves beyond listening and hearing to feeling deeply. She also expresses her care and love for her grandpa through important actions.
The Two Reasons We Wrote Grandpa Don’t Worry
First, in our books, we wanted to focus on trusted relationships, starting with Ashley-Ann and her mommy and now her grandpa. Eventually, Ashley-Ann will also receive messages about additional family members to strengthen values and increase their family bond. Ashley-Ann learns her grandpa worries and what this means to him and to her as well.
Listening carefully, placing yourself in someone else’s shoes (as close to their experience as you can get) and having a deeper understanding is the road to empathy. Empathy practiced in the home may lead to more empathy practiced in other important areas a child’s life: School, relationships, community, etc.
The 2nd reason we wrote Grandpa Don’t Worry was to pay tribute to both of our dads, Michael G. Skrobola and Irving S. Ziegler, who were the best grandpas to our children. They read, played, and spent time with our kids, and, yes, they would bring up subjects that had them worried.
In Grandpa Don’t Worry, we wanted our dads / the two grandpas to know that no matter the age of their grandchildren and great grandchildren, they were a large part in the shaping of feelings and family values. In fact, it was their Loving Lessons, mentioned in our book, which will continue to inspire our families in generations to come.
Worry is a Part of Human Nature
Is there a bittersweet lesson here? Well, yes, there is. it’s often wishing that Grandparents and parents didn’t have to worry. However, worry is a part of human nature. After all the definition of worry is to give attention to issues whether they or actual or a potential unknown. We live in a world where news, social media, technology, and disruption may increase the feelings of the unknown. Our advice is to tune out those distractions and be more present in the moment and aware, especially when you’re spending time (those precious moments) with your children.
So rather than silent thought and stressful worry, why not get present and bring it out in the open, in loving and kind ways. Start a practice to uncover thoughts, feelings, and values early. Explore how different feelings will continue to shape your child’s growth and development, even when they are grown and on their own.
Whether it’s an angel, like Noelle, or it’s your inner guidance system that brings up these feelings and values, it’s important to explore them early. Is there an angel who whispers in your ear? These whispers may call attention to feelings and values you have as an adult and a professional, or as a parent tuning into your children. The best words we can offer are to explore feeling together and often.
If you want to learn more about Grandpa Don’t Worry, you can check out the book on our website. You can also purchase our book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. All proceeds from A Whisper From Noelle and Grandpa Don’t Worry got to The Noelle Skrobola Outstanding Research Scholar Award at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) where Noelle received her undergraduate degree in Psychology.
It’s here! I’m launching the first ebook in a four-part series, all based on the data and analysis of the results from the FEEL First Test online.
Here’s the “Why” Behind the FEEL Test …
The FEEL First Test is part of an ongoing passion project and research experiment. When my stepdaughter, Noelle, who was a Millennial, passed away in September of 2018, I wanted to know what Millennials were thinking and feeling.
Many questions crossed my mind. Rather than guessing, I set off on a research journey gathering qualitative data from over 100 interviews with Millennials. At the time, I didn’t realize I would be analyzing and using the data to build a communications model, an online interactive test, and a roadmap to help professionals be present, self-aware and more tuned into and self-reflective of their interactions.
I wanted to know from Millennials, who were born between the years 1981 and 1996, the answers to these questions:
- How do you show up to your conversations?
- Are you sharing your authentic self?
- What do you value?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- How do you want the leaders / supervisors, managers and mentors in your life to communicate with you?
- What do you look for from a leader, supervisor, manager or mentor?
- What do you look for in a relationship?
- What does it take to build trust with people, whether you’re on social media, at your company or in any setting?
The 100+ Millennials I spoke with had more to say than I had ever expected or imagined. The one-on-one interviews scheduled for 15 to 20 minutes started to turn into 60 and 90-minute conversations.
I encouraged the flow of the discussions and the transparent sharing of stories and feelings. Some of what I heard enlightened me, and the process was eye-opening to say the least. At the same time, what was shared was jaw dropping and unsettling, which led me to ask another very important question.
Do you ever really know how someone feels?
The Millennials I interviewed told their stories with passion and from the heart. They stated exactly what they were thinking and feeling. It was then I realized, in order to tune in, and truly embrace the verbal and non-verbal cues shared daily, you have to be present and aware in each and every moment. Those interviews and those moments really opened my eyes.
When I stepped back to record the data from the conversations, I saw an interesting pattern develop. Four buckets quickly emerged based on the stories, the sentiment and the insights shared for the questions I initially asked. Clearly, and overwhelmingly, the Millennials wanted the people around them (with a focus on their leaders, supervisors, managers, etc.) to:
- Be more open and inclusive, which meant they had to face FEARS.
- Show kindness, be understanding and have EMPATHY.
- Live with truth and transparency and show good judgment, living with ETHICS daily.
- Have passion and show it by unleashing their LOVE for important causes and standing up for what they believed in.
For me, those four buckets, and understanding each one, has become a life purpose and an ongoing passion. They spelled a word that can make a difference in your personal and professional communication. The word is: FEEL.
If you apply FEEL or feelings, at the point of every interaction, and each communication you encounter, then you are more likely to deepen your conversations and move toward genuine relationships.
The word FEEL has changed my life and career journey, and it’s the lens through which I evaluate my communications. Applying a FEEL lens to your connections and communication helps to build trust, loyalty and advocacy with every interaction.
Having Emotional Intelligence (EI) means understanding your own feelings/ emotions and reactions. So, I ask you …
- Are you self-aware?
- Do you have self-discipline?
- Do you exercise self-management?
- Are you also self-reflective?
- Do you manage your own emotions, so you can tune into and handle/manage someone else’s?
Pondering the questions further, I realized there was no test to evaluate whether you FEEL first, before you engage in communication with the people around you.
Of course, evaluating your level of FEEL or how open, inclusive (and not fearful you are), empathetic, ethical and passionate toward a cause, is not just for Millennials. It’s for all generations and every human being.
As a result of my qualitative research study, which focused on Millennials, regardless of your gender, age, generation or profession, the FEEL First Test came to life with a goal to help you realize how you feel about yourself, the people around you.
After collecting over 9,100 answers from about 350 test participants between February 2020 and February 2021, I’ve created the 1st ebook you can download with findings from the FEEL First Test.
To get your complimentary copy of the ebook, How Different Generations Face Fears, you can fill out the brief form and download below.
My public relations/communication students and I have been discussing soft skills, including emotional intelligence (EQ), for several years.
More recently, the topic has come up in the context of relationship-building, specifically the role that EQ can play in building trust to create authentic, meaningful connections between organizations and diverse audiences. In the spirit of experiential learning, I wanted to turn these conversations into hands-on development opportunities.
Around the same time, I was speaking with Deirdre about her FEEL approach to communication. After learning more about her research and how it relates to EQ, I piloted an optional assignment in an upper-level, strategic communication course.
There are three basic components to the assignment:
- Take the FEEL First test and obtain your score.
- Review the suggestions, identify one and put it into practice.
- Write a brief reflection paper regarding the experience.
Students had about two weeks to do the work. They weren’t required to share their scores but rather consider what they learned as a result of the experience.
A Student Perspective
One student who completed the assignment, David James, a current UMass Amherst senior and communication major, felt that it was a personal confidence booster, as well as a jumping off point to better understanding public relations. He mentioned the importance of empathy, particularly for those who serve as chief relationship agents, to be able to “FEEL others’ thoughts, opinions and emotions on both a macro and micro level.”
David, who is also taking business courses, shared that, “I might not have even appreciated that enough while learning it, but in hindsight now, it covers how we should always go about the PR process. Even in the most high-stress crisis comms situations, PR efforts would benefit from a step back, a deep breath and feeling out how each target public might perceive the organization’s message.”
Overall, this exercise provides an opportunity for continuous learning; one that’s designed to encourage taking a more human approach to communication to enhance interpersonal and organizational relationships.
Jennie Donohue is a Senior Lecturer & Director of PR Curriculum, UMASS Amherst.
I’ve spent years writing business books on PR, branding and social media. However, I never imagined writing a children’s book on what it means to FEEL as a way to help parents and children to explore feelings together.
As I was working with professionals to FEEL First (my research passion project), which explores facing Fears, having Empathy, living with Ethics and unleashing Love, my husband, Mark shared that he wanted to write a children’s book as a way to honor the memory of our daughter (my stepdaughter) Noelle.
Then, I thought about about some of the resistance I’ve encountered in business around my FEEL model. Depending on your industry and company culture, showing your feelings in the workplace setting can be difficult for professionals.
Together we had an “AHA” moment and something clicked! Mark and I knew that the FEEL “work” must start younger, with children and parents, in the home. So, I mediated one morning and right afterward wrote the story, A Whisper From Noelle.” Mark took the ball and ran with it. He worked closely with the illustrator and the publisher to bring the book, A Whisper From Noelle, to life.
Children are impressionable. They are molded by their families in the home environment. Making sure you are present and actively listening to what scares your children, or what makes them happy, really matters. Helping children to learn what it means to be kind, caring and compassionate lays the groundwork for later years. Understanding why it is important to be true to yourself and to trust your “inner GPS” guides children more smoothly into adulthood.
Our hope, passion and purpose is to bring grandparents, parents and children together so they learn, understand, discover and accept different feelings. After all, there is nothing more precious than the feelings of your children as you help them to find their way in this world.
Mark and I have created a short video about the book you can access below. You can also visit our website to learn more about A Whisper From Noelle. All proceeds of the book go to The College of New Jersey’s Outstanding Research Scholar award.
Please help us to celebrate the launch of our new book and the importance of sharing feelings in the home.
A Whisper From Noelle Book Launch
I’ve been media training executives for years. The training and exercises were focused on verbal communication and sharing the company’s messaging correctly. These thought leaders were tested in several media situations to see if they could answer questions accurately and in a way that always bridged back to the “talking points.” At the same time, they practiced non-verbal communication; what their bodies were saying as they shared these critical messages. Do the same media training techniques work today in a heated and highly emotional media landscape?
A Different Approach to Media Training
Let’s look at a different approach, one that goes beyond what you expect in media training. What you expect is only part of the equation when dealing with a passionate public and a polarized landscape, from the journalists who share the “news” stories to the audiences who watch, sometimes in awe or other times, in utter shock.
There’s far too much going on in the news not to be human and to react. Daily, you witness what’s happening, from the coronavirus pandemic, the economic concerns and the reopening of business to the racial injustice, protests across the country, and the lack of civil discourse in politics in an election year. The news cycle is fast and furious, and emotions are running high. So what’s the other part of the equation? It’s to take an emotionally intelligent approach to your media conversations and to show up to your interviews and appearances with your EI hat on and your willingness to navigate increasingly tough topics.
Emotional Intelligence and Executive Interviews
Why is emotional intelligence valuable wherever an executive shows up? If you don’t have a good handle on your own emotions, you will not manage others’ feelings. The rule applies to any of your stakeholders and important constituents. The media needs your emotional intelligence too. Building a relationship with journalists and their communities means being a trusted and reliable resource. However, this also translates into showing up to interviews with more than just talking points. You have to be emotionally ready to navigate difficult topics today and how they affect your business (even when you think it’s a “softball” interview).
I could steer you to any number of YouTube videos of interviews with cable news hosts and their guests that have “gone bad” and the tweets and Facebook posts that go viral as a result. However, let’s not focus on the negative. Now, there’s an approach to listen, learn, understand, and to do better in your interviews.
You have to take a FEEL approach to your media interviews. If you’ve been following me, then you know that FEEL stands for face your Fears, engage with Empathy, live with Ethics, and unleash your Love. Your talking points and messaging are still relevant, and so is your body language. However, it’s also your job to tune in and learn how others are showing up and to uncover what they are feeling.
What’s their real agenda? The first step to finding out is to quiet your mind and to be fully present. You may be thinking, “If I’m prepared to answer questions, and I’m really good with my own body language then why does it matter?” When your mind is clear, and you’re open and understanding about what’s going on with your journalist, the media outlet, and the audience, you’re moving from one-time interview to more frequent opportunities and go-to-media expert.
Three Top Reasons to Take a Mindful Approach
If there is any doubt about bringing emotional intelligence to your interviews, here are three top reasons to incorporate a new mindful approach:
- When you quiet the chatter, you’re on your toes, fully present, and much more likely to share a thoughtful answer than the quick, pressured response you may regret later.
- When your mind is clear, you’re also able to open your frame of reference. Taking the chip off your shoulder and checking your ego at the door helps you step back when you hear something that would typically cause you to have a knee-jerk reaction. Having a clear mind allows you to stop the constant knee-jerking. Instead, you’ll ask a question, which allows a conversation to progress more comfortably.
- When you’re fully present and open to hearing different perspectives, you’re also actively listening, which is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Of course, you’ll have more concise and helpful answers when you’re tuned in and listening. You’ll also be able to mirror back information that helps people feel validated about what they’re sharing, even if you’re not in 100% agreement with their views.
If you’re interested in trying a different approach to media, then there’s a FEEL Roadmap with exercises to help you to FEEL First, a new way to prep for your interviews. Completing the activities on the roadmap will prepare you to not only deliver your talking points but also to show up with more than just your messaging. Now, you’ll be EI ready for any interview.
You can download the FEEL Roadmap here.
Here’s the 2nd video in my “555” series to help 5 professionals incorporate FEEL into their communication, lift up 5 professionals who share excellent resources and to offer my 5 tips for working remotely in challenging times.
As the video mentions, the first 5 people who reach out to me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) will receive a complimentary consulting session to discuss how to add the FEEL approach to your communications.
As for the 5 resources to lift others, I’ve included the following:
- Co-founder of TEKgroup International Steve Momorella’s Crisis Webinar.
- Wendy Glavin’s new LinkedIn Group called Tech Talk: From Newbies to Savvy.
- Julia Pimsleur’s CEO Check-In Live on Facebook and Instagram. You can check out information about her event.
- The #WinnieSun Twitter chat every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET hosted by Wealth Whisperer Winnie Sun.
- Alissa Carpenter’s Humanize Your Workplace podcast with tips on being more aware and human at work.
You can check out the video for these resources and also learn my 5 tips to working remotely. I rely on certain platforms, devices and having my office set up so I’m video meeting ready.
My heart goes out to everyone whose health and businesses have been impacted by COVID-19. I’m here to help, to lift others and to share resources and tips.