Last Friday I lost my voice … and I still haven’t gotten it completely back.
This means I can’t answer the phone.
It means I can’t have conversations.
It means I can’t sing along while I watch Glee.
And, of course, it made it quite a challenge when I covered the California Women’s Conference on Monday.
And that’s where things get interesting.
I was torn … do I honor my commitment and go to the conference? If I do, how do I do it without a voice? Well, I came up with a plan. I wrote a couple of simple scripts and printed them out so I could communicate what I needed to communicate quickly and easily.
Yes, I couldn’t do the interviews I had hoped, but I could get a bunch of “ambiance” interviews. And, for the most part, it worked.
I say for the most part because, of all the “interviews” I did … only one person truly got the essence of what I was trying to get (which is why he’s the first one featured in the video). But I also got some strange reactions to my note:
- Some people tried to communicate with me in some sort of sign language … like not being able to speak means I can’t hear.
- Some people looked at me with pity and/or a touch of disgust and tried to get rid of me.
- One person looked at me as if I’d just asked her to give me money and said, “I’ll do it later” with a very rude tone of voice. (Guess who never got into the video?)
- A couple of people told me their stories of how they had lost their voice … and could “feel my pain.”
- Some people were just confused and I had to elaborate with my whispery ghost of a voice.
- A few people admired me for my professionalism, for still doing what I promised to do in the best way I could.
So what did I learn from all of this?
I learned that no matter how clear your attempt to communicate, people will receive your communication through their own personal filter and experience it in a personal and unique way. Each and every person received the same note, but did not have the same understanding. There is no universal communication. You do your best and those who you were meant to connect with will get it.
I learned that being different, being uniquely you is the best way to filter out those you are not meant to serve from those you are. No one expects to meet a reporter who cannot talk. So the experience was jarring for many. But some took the opportunity I offered for what it was … the chance to increase their visibility via a video distributed through PWR Network … and others did not. I have faith that those who did not were not best served by the 10+ million listeners the station attracts to its shows, nor would those listeners have been interested in what they had to say.
I learned that it is easy to take yourself for granted. I make an effort to always do what I say I’m going to do. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but at least I make the effort. It is this commitment to my word that makes me the professional that I am. I didn’t make excuses for myself. I used my creative faculties to make lemon bars out of lemons, and was appreciated for my efforts. That said, I hadn’t thought twice about it, so when several people commented on my tenacity, professionalism and go-for-it attitude, it took me by surprise. I had taken myself for granted … not everyone would have tried to make this scenario work.
Now its your turn:
What are your take-aways from my experience? Will you be clearer in your communication to your target market and have faith that you are communicating to your tribe? Will you be a little more understanding when confronted with someone with a temporary (or permanent) disability? Will you start to allow your unique and awesome self shine through? Or, perhaps, will you start to celebrate those victories and successes in your everyday life that you have, until now, taken for granted? Please share your thoughts and wisdom in a comment below.