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A Guest Post By Keke Ellis, American University Grad Student, FEEL Blog Post Winner
Back in 2014, I made a comment on Facebook about the movie Dear White People. I don’t remember the exact comment, but within days an acquaintance made a big fuss over what I had said. If I remember correctly, I mentioned something to the effect of how the male protagonist (who happened to be white) was not the ‘savior’ of the film. It did not go over well, and it led to a back and forth. Honestly, I don’t even remember the virtual argument, only how it made me feel. I hated it. It was exhausting and it felt pointless (not to hurt someone, but to engage on the platform in such a negative way). I’ve never been one to fight online (or in person for that matter) and I’m proud to say that that incident was the first and last time. I graduated with my BA not too long afterwards and in lieu of me wanting and subsequently joining AmeriCorps, I spent less and less time on social media and I rarely posted in those years leading up to me deleting the apps. And as I mentioned, deleting my social media accounts was one of the best decisions I could do for my mental health, and on a smaller scale, my personal life.
Do I think I will get back on social media? No, not in any major way. But I do believe LinkedIn is important, and it may be beneficial for me to have at least one of the big accounts (Twitter, Facebook) for professional use. Never again though for personal use. There’s no FOMO here! I’ll confess my phone health did not get better. Sadly, I still spend way too much time on Google, playing computer games, checking for texts. We’re all working on it, right?
If I’m honest, I don’t think my FEEL test results surprised me. I scored lowest (love of mission) in the area that I expected and higher (or highest) in those areas that I expected (empathy and ethics), as well. If anything, it showed me where I could ‘go’ from here. There wasn’t a revelation of me being a big softie, any more than I knew I wasn’t going to score well on telling my Instagram followers about my passions. Not only because of my lack of social media, but also because I am a private person in general. It’s something that I am working on. Not that being a private person is a ‘bad’ thing, it’s just that I tend to use that privacy as a way to shut people out (i.e., a security blanket of sorts). It’s okay to be open. Isn’t that the point of the FEEL First model? To connect in a more genuine manner? To actually open up with one another without and despite any fear we may be feeling in the moment?
I would like for my love of mission score to increase and will try to implement ways to do that. If I may divulge a personal matter – my boyfriend and I and going through growing pains; you know, the ones you have as you try to plan out how to intertwine your lives. He’s a big-time extravert. There is no friend he cannot make, no person he cannot go up to and start a conversation with. An hour can go by and for him it will feel like only a few minutes. I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. I’m awkward with small talk and get exhausted by interacting with others. His ideal Friday night is out, among the people, maybe dancing. Mine, is at home, on the couch, watching football or hockey or basketball. We could not be more different in our personalities. However, I envy his ability to open himself up so quickly; to see anyone as a potential friend. I think of him as my barometer to stretching myself beyond my comfort zone.
I can volunteer more. I can look a homeless person in the eye and have a real conversation with them instead of just ignoring them or dropping a few cents without looking their way. I can be more present in my interactions – putting my phone away, engaging and listening in a sincere manner. I can show up for myself in new ways as well, because how can I share my ‘love’ if I don’t first believe that I can accomplish the mission to begin with? I can and will be kinder to myself; easier on myself when I fail and become a better champion of who I am and where I would like to go in my life. There is so much division and hurtful language both in-person and online. I can and will counter this by trying to practice kindness no matter where I am. I know, I know, it sounds pretty hokey. This also, I believe, helps me face fears as well. It takes courage to love yourself out-loud, we can see this through the numerous bills going throughout state, local, and federal legislatures – whether they be about race, gender, sexual orientation, or reproductive rights. I think it’s easy to tear someone down. Our last President made daily entertainment out of it. It’s much harder to support and stand up. You can lose friends, family, your job, and possibly even your life for doing so. Being kind in the face of fear and hatred is radical (just ask those who fought in the Civil Rights era).
In the wake of the death of Mike Brown – which also happened in 2014 – a teenager from Missouri who was shot and killed by a police officer, I, and a group of about 30 others, peacefully marched in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana where I’m from. We were protesting police brutality, many, many months before the tragic events of the summer of 2020, and unfortunately, many, many decades after the death of MLK. I am angry, and frustrated, and saddened. How can we still be dealing with racial injustice? Suni Lee, an American gold medalist, and member of the Hmong community, was allegedly harassed recently while out with friends. Again, I ask, how can we still be dealing with racial injustices?
I understand that as one person I should not think I can make a difference, but look at the way the FEEL First Model is shaking up how communication practitioners are working in the field? Isn’t Deirdre Breakenridge just one person? That inspires me. In the ‘roadmap’ I created (see figure 1 below), in blue are the scores from the FEEL First test I took back in September. In orange are the scores I hope to achieve. Of course, I would like to continue to engage with empathy and use ethics and good judgment at high levels; at the best I possibly can. What has worked for me in the past is to try and be fair and impartial in decision making, whether that be giving both my niece and nephew the same amount of attention or listening to a coworker when they are having a bad day. These are simple things, I think.
At the end of the day, I just want to be a good person. When I’m old and gray, looking back over my life, I just want to think I was a good person. And the FEEL First model gets me closer to that goal.
Keke Ellis is a writer, researcher, and entrepreneur originally from Louisiana, who enjoys hiking, spending time with family, and a good crawfish boil. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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.
As more news and information is shared about the Coronavirus pandemic, the public is bombarded with messages and the volume of noise increases. Yes, these are uncertain times and communication can either help or it can be confusing. You have to choose wisely how you communicate and interact with the people and the communities around you.
At the same time, the way you’ve operated and shared information in the past, whether it was a month ago or even last week, will be different than how you’ll approach your communications today. In the spirit of helping, giving and FEELing for others, I’ve decided to do something a little different myself.
I’m launching what I call a “555” Series to offer complimentary FEEL consulting to 5 businesses, uplift 5 giving professionals by sharing their resources and provide 5 tips for communicating during times that require leadership focused on Emotional Intelligence (EI). I’ve mentioned in my video that the first 5 businesses or professionals who contact me via email (email@example.com), will receive a complimentary consulting session to assess how much they FEEL First in their communication with important constituents.
You can check out my video for the full 555 on helping businesses, amplifying the voices of colleagues with giving resources and to learn some simple tips to communicate wearing your EI hat.
We are in uncertain times. Your customers, employees, partners, the media and other important constituents are looking to you for helpful information. Unfortunately, a lot of the communication shared in uncertain times ends up confusing and frustrating these groups even more.
As we witness the stock market lows, travel bans, event cancellations and more businesses asking employees to work from home, here are three tips to help guide your communication.
Tip #1: Stick with what you know — be direct and don’t share hunches and guestimates.
Tip #2: Show up with your Emotional Intelligence (EI) so you can respond thoughtfully and not react to challenging communication.
Tip #3: Appreciate the feedback you receive — it’s a gift — even the negative feedback helps you to learn and grow.
Here’s my video discussing these tips in more detail and how they can help you.
It’s time to FEEL First in your communication. I’ve been working on my passion project, the FEEL Model, gathering research about the type of communication that builds relationships and creates stronger bonds. In uncertain times, FEEL (facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, Using Ethics and unleashing Love) can make a difference. As the Coronavirus spreads and new cases are reported in the U.S. and globally, effective, meaningful and valuable communication requires a FEEL First approach.
Check out the tips and please share yours too. Together, we can lead with compassion and understanding, and offer helpful and accurate information to the people who matter the most to us professionally and personally in our lives.
Happy 2020, friends! Here’s to a year that’s filled with happiness, good health, and prosperity.
When I look back at 2019, I realize it was an intense year for so many reasons. Every week was one of reflection and new insights with a 52+ week millennial research project.
Today, as a result of this reflection and realizing my research had uncovered a new Mode of Operation or communication model, I’m focusing on a FEEL roadmap in 2020; adding FEEL to all of my communications. At the same time, I’ll be helping other professionals understand why strategic communications can only get you so far in your connections and relationship building. FEEL is the stepping stone to real relationships personally and professionally. How much do you use FEEL in your communication through all of your channels? Now you can find out with the FEEL First Test.
I decided to evaluate myself and my ability to FEEL, by taking the online FEEL First test, which came together as a result of the deep conversations with millennials in 2019.
I was surprised, not so surprised, to learn that I still have some FEEL work to do in the areas of facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, etc. In 2020, I’m on my way to FEEL Mastery, which is the highest range of scores you can achieve. The FEEL First Test not only evaluates your ability to FEEL, in every area of the model, and in different settings, but it also recommends exercises to increase your level of FEEL.
And, so my roadmap begins and yours can too.
A huge thank you to all of those millennials who took the time to interview with me, and who wanted to share the value of communication, what it means to have trust in a real relationship and what they expect from the important people in their lives. You have helped me to get through a difficult time and to turn loss and sadness into purpose and focus.
Here’s my video discussing where my roadmap begins and how professionals and companies would solve a lot of their issues and communication challenges with the FEEL model.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Amit Jain at Unsplash
It’s official … the FEEL First Test is online and ready for you to evaluate how much you FEEL (face Fears, engage with Empathy, use Ethics and good judgment and unleash your Love) in your communication.
I’ve been asked, “Why the launch of the FEEL Model and the FEEL First Test and what will you learn from the data?” The answer is simple … to help business professionals understand the major components that build trust in communication and to move from connections and simple transactions to genuine and meaningful relationships. The data we collect from the survey participants will give us an indication of FEEL by age, generation, and profession.
This test came from a year’s worth of research with millennials. After about 52 weeks and 55+ formal and informal one-on-one interviews, the millennials who participated in my passion project answered pointed questions about their communication; how they wanted to show up, be perceived and what they expected and preferred via different channels from the people around them, especially the Leaders* in their lives.
The FEEL Test scores you on each part of FEEL and lets you know how much you FEEL in your communication (from beginner to FEEL Mastery). From my work and what I’ve uncovered from this passion project is, if you don’t FEEL first, then how do you tap into how someone else feels to build an unbreakable bond?
Along with social media intelligence gathering and analyzing conversations, the FEEL model is an approach that applies all parts of FEEL across communication channels to build genuine and meaningful relationships.
Take a look at the video which offers more details and please take the FEEL First Test. We’ll be gathering and sharing data in this ongoing project that launched after my Millennial stepdaughter, Noelle, passed away last September. It was Noelle who put me on the road to FEEL. I want to share what I’ve learned with you so you can FEEL First to improve your relationships moving forward.
*Leaders were defined as supervisors, managers and/or executives at their companies, business leaders at their favorite brands or brands they followed, and political and religious leaders.