Saturday, November 26, 2005

Human Relations and the Toastmasters Experience

A contribution to our Newsletter for our upcoming Chartering Ceremony.

For the record, I did not want to join Toastmasters International.

Let’s do that again, I did not want to join Toastmasters International. But now, here I am, almost completing my term during the start-up phase of the _____ Toastmasters Club.

I was a reluctant contributor during the start-up of this club and for whatever plaudits I received, I have to say “thank you” for your kindness. Should you want to cast brickbats, yes, you are most welcome, as well.

The reluctance stemmed from my lack of understanding what Toastmasters was. It was additional work, it was not within my mandate, etc. etc. Technically, it could become a “lose-lose” situation. I just had no time to go around during those times. Aside from my job, I already was involved with a community organization which demanded a great chunk of my free time. So adding another involvement would not be logical.

But in the words of Thomas Alva Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I’m glad I took the opportunity, mainly because it was an opportunity to let my boss down or to support him fully because he had the mandate to get the club going. Or so it went in my mind.

In many respects, managing just as well in Toastmasters and with other things in our lives is all about BALANCE --- the balance of the human priorities and the task priorities. More often than not, it’s the human part that is more difficult to resolve. Tasks are straightforward, clinical, scientific --- it’s just a question of finding the right person to do it at the right time. The part of putting it all together? That’s the human part, and it’s tricky.

Communication occupies more than 70% of our time, and it is apropos that the purpose of Toastmasters is to improve the way we communicate with others. On the one hand, there is the TECHNIQUE of getting the point across. On the other, there is the human factor of VALUING the process and BEING, not just BECOMING, a good communicator. Good communicators have the advantage of having the right tools to manage their relationships better. To take it to the next step, a good communicator must have the essential SINCERITY to make his tools have the proper purpose, the proper direction.

A well-worn expression but an apt one is “There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” To get people to work, one would have them volunteer their hands, hearts, and minds into the project. The simple (which is sometimes complex to others) answer is that we cannot control people, much less expect them to work our way, whether in Toastmasters or in other areas of our lives. There is only one thing we do control: OURSELVES.

We volunteer our hearts to the task, we awaken others by our conviction. We volunteer our minds to the idea, we inspire others by our brilliance. We volunteer our hands to what needs to be done, we move others to do the same. One belief that has been strengthened by my Toastmasters experience is that we do what needs to be done, regardless of our status or circumstances. Then we reap the satisfaction of being a part of any accomplishment, major or minor.

In other words, we must be the model of that we wish to see. I would like to share a few words that I know to be true, and I hope they serve as guideposts to us in our continuing involvement with Toastmasters and in our lives in general:

The SIX most important words: "I admit I made a mistake." Nothing disarms people more than saying, “I’m sorry.” The second part of this of course is offering true restitution.

The FIVE most important words: "You did a good job." We share all of our accomplishments with the contributions others make to our lives, and affirming their share fuels their greater involvement in the work.

The FOUR most important words: "What is your opinion?" Everyone is important, so every member of the team must have a say --- and any opinion is valid especially if it comes from deep within the person.

The THREE most important words: "If you please." There is nothing so important or so urgent that a little kindness wouldn’t help.

The TWO most important words: "Thank You." We are grateful because we are presented with OPPORTUNITIES. We are grateful because there is someone else standing beside us, sharing something to help our cause.

The ONE MOST important word: "We.” If it were not for everyone pulling together, I doubt if there is anything like the _____ Toastmasters Club today. In keeping with the two most important words, “Thank you,” for all things big and small you have done for the Club.

The LEAST important word: "I." It’s not as if the person is not important, but that in any undertaking, the “I” is contained in the first commitment one makes, that commitment signed in the heart. So this is not the first thing that comes to mind to any undertaking, because once one has signed on, getting credit is less of a necessity.

It has been a privilege to be of service during the formation of this Toastmasters Club. I look forward to more growth from our Club and I trust that all the members will take advantage of all the learning and service opportunities that will come our way.

Respice, adspice, prospice!

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