Thinking Out Loud – Ep: 05 – DUM Questions

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All leaders need to understand the impact they’re making. When we don’t think about the implications of our communication, we can become guilty of making “DUM” mistakes. Join us as we break apart just what a “DUM” question is, as well as how to avoid them in this episode of “Thinking Out Loud.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew J. Mason:

This is Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier, episode five Dum Questions. Welcome to thinking out loud with Dr. Joe Currier. My name’s Andrew J. Mason and this is the show where we hit the pause button on life, head to the locker room for some life changing halftime inspiration and then zoom back in and grab the tactics direct from Dr. Joe’s playbook to pull it all together when we’re on the field. Today Dr. Joe shares a mind shift that will change how you view your relationships with those you lead. As a parent, a boss, any situation where you find yourself wearing the hat of a leader, Dr. Joe reveals how dumb questions can undermine our intentions and it might not be what you think. Here’s Dr. Joe with more.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The title of this podcast is difficult. It’s a question. Are you dumb at home and on the job? This is not an easy podcast. I hope you’ll be patient with me. I believe this message is as much about me as anyone else on the planet. I’m asking to take a good look at the word dumb and then look in the mirror and ask yourself, am I? am I dumb? Now that I have your attention, or at least I hope I have your attention, let me get real. I spell dum, D-U-M not, D-U-M-B, dumb. I don’t understand my message. The underlying intended message that I’m sending someone, dum. I don’t understand the meaning, what I’m hoping that one is to understand and take away as part of them and our relationship, dum. I don’t understand my motivation. Why do I do what I do?

Dr. Joe Currier:

These are serious questions to caring individuals. I believe that the overwhelming majority of human beings are well-intentioned, caring, hoping to build, win-win relationships. I believe people do not intend to shame or blame others. My question is, do you and I hide behind our good intentions? We often act in relation to our intention when we should also pay attention, maybe special attention to the impact we create, how something lands within the mind, heart and ego of the listener. Words can hurt, intent versus impact. It’s a little tongue in cheek but I’ve often said, “Good intentions may get you into heaven but they will not get you into the hall of fame for leadership, parenting and being a part of a loving relationship.” Imagine your child doing what children do and you walk into a real mess and then it begins, dum words. Look at me. What is wrong with you? What do you think you’re doing? Are these real questions? Especially what is wrong with you?

Dr. Joe Currier:

What message am I sending a child? Dum. I don’t understand the meaning. Am I calling a child out and labeling their tears as being weak and shameful? This psychodrama may occur in a doctor’s office. Your child fusses, frets and says no to a needle, dum words here they come. That doesn’t hurt, don’t be a baby. The nonverbal look on the parent’s face, they are also part of the message. It says, what’s wrong with you. If you could only read the child’s eyes or maybe hear the thoughts, do you want me to lie to you? You may be right. I can see why you’re embarrassed by me. I’m sorry I cried. I must be weak, dum. I don’t understand my motivation, why I do what I do, a true story. I heard it as an adult. This is a man now telling a story about when he was 12 years old. At 12, he was in a local championship game. By the way, not the finals in the Olympics. The child goes down on the soccer field, a compound fracture. The bone is literally sticking out of his leg.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Parents frantically run down, come to his aid and the first words out of dad’s mouth are, “Are you okay?” Followed by, “Can you continue?” Is that a real question? Is this a father, son lesson in life? Is shame lurking in the background waiting to see if the child has strength and character, to be a real man at 12 years old? The child has a blank stare, searching for his truth and oh, by the way, mom remained silent. Remember the non-verbals can also be very powerful, negative messages. So the non-verbals, the fuss of other words, the rush of the paramedics frankly, they did not drown out the damage to the child’s ego because I heard them in therapy years and years later, more dum messages. Picture again here, a child sitting after having heard the words, how many times do I have to tell you? I wish the parents could imagine the child sitting alone for that moment, with the response, probably one more time and I hope I’m worth it.

Dr. Joe Currier:

One last scene in this family drama, you and I agree, I believe at least, that it’s our job it’s our responsibility and frankly, our privilege to teach our young ones. So imagine this scene, child standing alone, looking off into the distance, the child questions the demands of the parent, there’s been a conflict and she simply asks a simple question, why? The dum response, or should I say, the missed life coaching opportunity is because I said so. If Spielberg were crafting a movie of these missed opportunities and unintended dum behaviors, he might have a child sitting quietly looking up at a night sky, wishing on a star, parent might’ve just told him, get out of my sight. And the camera comes in as the child makes a silent wish. I wish I could please you, I’m so dumb and oh, by the way, yes the word has a B at the end, D-U-M-B. At the end of this very painful memory.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Let me leave the drama with perhaps a picture on a dresser someplace in your house. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. There was a time when there were strong, loving, protective, arms holding a newborn, you can see the peaceful sleep of the child and you can feel the protection and care of the proud parent. We try to hide sometimes vulnerable emotions like fear and sadness and pain, we hide it in anger. That’s what shows up and we often say that anger is a second emotion. Anger shows up when we’re really trying to somehow communicate an honest, caring, feeling to a person. Question, do you control your emotions or do they control you? I know we’re trying to have on time performance but don’t be dum, words have meaning, messages have impact. In my minds eye I can picture a man and a woman who are not kids anymore, but I see them playing. He’s actually giving her a piggyback ride to a wheat field. Remember when we had that kind of fun?

Dr. Joe Currier:

I have found that over the years I’ve been married now, 53 years, I have found that over the years that mature relationships are better served with the question, not do you love me, I believe that’s probably embedded in most longterm relationships. One might better ask, do you like me? How am I doing? So I ask the question again, do you remember when we had fun and forgiveness? So ask yourself two words, not yourself, your self, your inner child. Have you forgotten the promise you made as a young one? How many times have kids said to a parent, “I will never speak to my child that way.” In later years, you hear the same harsh, dum words, remember D-U-M, coming out of your mouth. Now would be a good time to get rid of the dum stuff, we know better. I will admit there have been times when I’ve confided in the stars. Yeah, you’d think I’d know better by now. I had more to learn and in the 76th year of my life I’m doing better. I’ve still got a thing or two to learn.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So I’ll leave you with two powerful words that I’ve shared in other instances, oh, well, which in my mind means the best is yet to come. Promises made are promises kept. For those of us who work on the oath to love, honor and serve, remember we took that oath in good times and in bad, it’s a no excuses promise. Now in going forward, I especially need your goodwill and your caring to love, honor and serve when I’m not showing up the way I should be. I also will be using the correct pronoun I hope. I versus you going forward, not the accusatory uncompromising you. I take a breath, get hold of my emotions. Oh, well. As far as Business 101, there’s another version to this blog but for now, let’s just stay with the home team. Blessings on your way and thank you.

Andrew J. Mason:

Well, we’re here again to zoom in from that awesome inspiration to some tactical nuts and bolts tips here for how to implement what Dr. Joe was just talking about with being dum, D-U-M. And this one hits home for me. As a father, I sometimes forget, we’re headed to day school, I just need to get the kids dressed, it’s been 40 minutes and the performance based questions start for me. And you want to introduce any sort of leverage you have as a parent so you won’t be late but not at the expense of your relationship with your child, so what do you do? I just sometimes forget, honestly.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Andrew with that, please remember there’s another word in there perhaps. I can afford to forget when I’m the bigger of the two, when I have more psychological size. When that reverses itself, and you’re on the playground with the bully, you don’t forget, you have that cautious eye. We have to remember when we are in that driver or that power seat to make sure that that true empathy that is deep inside your heart, I can hear it as you’re describing your two children to keep an eye on that and not forget, or we sometimes run the risk of what I call the eight o’clock parent.

Dr. Joe Currier:

And that is we blow up at three, four, five, six at the dinner table and then at eight o’clock at night we pad up the stairs and say, “Johnny, you know I was just angry. I really do love you.” And we do but sometimes when we really punch at the heart with dum questions again, please don’t hear me criticizing this, you and I are stupid but when we give ourselves the permission to allow that dum stuff to come out of ourselves, sometimes it tears at the ego and the child’s self esteem starts getting shredded, so I want to keep my eye focused on not giving myself permission to forget.

Andrew J. Mason:

It’s so funny about the new reality that this virus has created for those of us in lockdown, we don’t have any day school to go to now so our outside commitments have really diminished. I actually find myself enjoying our time together more because we don’t have time based commitments to get to and I feel like there’s a key there.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Andrew, the perfect child that we try to create sometimes sometimes can become a burden where we over commit ourselves, and over commit our child and we take them from here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes less can be more and the child may be upset. What do you mean we’re not going to go from this to that, to the other thing? But sometimes we get so much into that time crunch that we don’t have the quality of the moment, we are continuing to be on this treadmill.

Dr. Joe Currier:

So I think sometimes an appropriate no, children need to hear the disappointment of rather than perhaps the way you were raised, I don’t know, but I know the way I was raised, we didn’t have some of those opportunities. So I want to make it up to my child but at what cost? Sometimes the family circle gets strained with that and also by the way, mom and dad, you have certain rights to. Especially burdened mothers. I don’t want to become to gender specific, but sometimes they become selfless, they’re so sacrificing that they forget their own self. And that’s why sometimes I would use a healthy, no, I’m sorry.

Andrew J. Mason:

Well I really resonated with that like versus love distinction there. This idea of, yeah, I know you love me but do you like me? And how do we be more intentional about communicating, yes, I not only unconditionally love you but man, I just really enjoy being around you.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Well, one of the things is stay cute, the things that we used to do when we were in the courting stage, we wanted to dance and sometimes I’m going to wink here because that could be the sex word. Sometimes we forget to stay cute, stay again, forgiving. One of the things I encourage individuals to do, partners to do in marriages and putting on the hat of the psychologist now and tried to live this in my own marriage is there’s actually three forces in a relationship. There’s he let’s say she, I know there’s also she and she and he and he so I’m just going to stay with the genders right now.

Dr. Joe Currier:

There’s she and he but in between is this thing called the R, the relationship and it represents the rights of both partners and we have no right to diminish the R. And when we are not in a kind and empathetic voice, when the other person is not doing exactly what we had hoped or wanted, we cannot diminish the R. We have an obligation to make sure that this thing called a relationship breathes and grows and like is at times much more important than the loving part. Loving I take for granted, it’s there, it’s the devotion just it’s like a fire person who runs out in the middle of the fire. I want to know day to day, good times and in bad that that relationship is going to continue to breathe.

Andrew J. Mason:

I feel like that’s a perfect spot to leave it for today’s episode and we’d so appreciate your feedback. Remember to subscribe to us on iTunes. And until next time, this was Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. Leadership transformation, growth, acceleration.