In the Crapper

Montana is incredible in a number of ways, with innovative thinking at the top of the list. On a drive one afternoon during a visit to that fair state, we saw a tipped-over outhouse that’s now cleverly used as a junction box for telephone and electrical wires.

The wheels in my mind started to spin as I thought about the ways we express ourselves—communication. The coin dropped, and I heard it click.

It’s been said that foul language is the mark of a limited vocabulary and a poor imagination. A person who can’t hold a conversation without the use of expletives is oftentimes referred to as a potty mouth—the outhouse connection!

I can remember having my mouth washed out with soap on a few childhood occasions. And I can still hear my mother’s wise advice: Make your words sweet and tender today, for tomorrow you may have to eat them.

Have you ever had your mouth washed out?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

In this technology-intense era, we can send an email around the globe in a nanosecond with the mere push of a button.

I don’t receive handwritten letters often, so when I do, they’re extra special. During my sabbatical, I received physical correspondence from a few people. One package winged its way across the pond from Wales!

People sent mail to my Boise address and then Len brought it to me when he visited Darby. It was so much fun!

When was the last time you sent or received a handwritten letter?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Shouting Doesn’t Help

The road trip to my sabbatical location wasn’t much different from watching “I Love Lucy.”

SCENE: 70 mph, five lanes, one fork, two exits, lots of traffic, freezing rain, and slick road conditions at dusk. Oh, and did I mention the frequent bounding of mule deer across the highway?

LEN says: “There’s a fork in the road up ahead. When you veer right, stay in the left lane because the road we need to take is across from a shopping mall on the right.”

LAURIE shouts: “What?!”

SIRI grumbles: “Recalculating route…” (but I’m sure what followed under her breath was “Ay-Yi-Yi” with a Ricky Ricardo accent) as we missed the turnoff.

Hint #2 — The cat where I’m living during my sabbatical is usually indoor/outdoor. However, because wolves are down from the surrounding mountains hunting for food—one seen as close as the neighbor’s porch—he’s strictly indoor at this time.

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” —Robert McCloskey, American author and illustrator of children’s books

Can you relate?

Reminder, the caveat of the Looking for Laurie game stipulates: “The first person to type the accurate city and state of my sabbatical location into the comments section of the Mar 28 post will receive a personalized copy of Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth for themselves or as a gift to someone else.”

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

And the World Goes ‘Round

Boise, Idaho—there’s no doubt we live in one of the most beautiful locations in North America. The photo below is just one of the lovely scenes we pass on our daily walks. And though the water’s been turned off for the winter and the wheel isn’t currently going ‘round, it’s still captivating.

Water wheel

In my most recent article for Sibyl magazine I wrote:

Communication—not love—is what makes the world go round. One of the strongest human longings is to be heard and acknowledged. This need is deeply anchored to our connection with others.

I went on to say:

Excellent communicators make eye contact with the other person and take in what they’re saying. They give visual clues and utilize encouraging expressions of agreement—nodding their head, smiling, softly saying uh-huh—to let the other person know that they’re actively listening.

Who was the last person you gifted with your undivided attention?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Humanity’s Mortar

We’ve all heard the expression “shoots from the hip” used to describe someone who “says what they mean, and means what they say.” Their style of communication is decisive and strong.

In my perspective, communication is the mortar that holds humanity together; it’s the very currency of our society. Each of us dips our toes into four communication styles, but works from a primary stance:

  • Expresser — relies on feelings, tends to ask “Who?”
  • Relater — relies on relationships, tends to ask “What?”
  • Analyzer — relies on data, tends to ask “How?”
  • Driver — relies on cooperation, tends to ask “What?”


There are people in each category who are clear, concise, and articulate in their delivery style.

Brick and Mortar


Likewise, there are people in each category who are a bit fuzzy in getting their point across.

IMG_7562

What is your primary communication style?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Not just for Writers — Criticism versus Critique

When I spoke at the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison, one of my topics was why critiquing is necessary. My presentation included defining the difference between criticism and critique:

I represented CRITICISM with scissor blades facing the recipient — putting a person on the defensive. We typically react (knee-jerk) to this style of communication, viewing it as an attack. Criticism is problem-oriented, negative, and critical.

I represented CRITIQUE with scissor handles facing the recipient — putting the person at ease. We typically respond (thought-filled) to this style of communication, viewing it as a gift. Critique is solution-oriented, positive, and helpful.

When you provide feedback (at home, work, or in a writing situation), is your message respectful, honest, useful, clear, and specific?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity for phone-intensive interaction with people—some I know, others I don’t. Regardless, at the end of each conversation I stop and reflect on the exchange of words, tone, and delivery style.

I find myself wondering once again, “What’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?”

When I was in the corporate world, I taught MAGICMake A Good Impression on the Client. One of the tips was to keep a mirror on your desk and smile into it when speaking on the phone.

Mirror - Laurie

With that in mind, I’ve taken my own advice and placed a mirror on my desk so that I smile on purpose and use words, tone, and a delivery style that I myself would welcome.

What kind of “magic” do you use?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence