Know the Script (3.5-min. read)

Mom B Outside Edited
My mom was an earth angel. Her warm spirit made others feel they were her most favorite people in the world. Everyone loved her. The only people who waffled were the women who wanted to marry my dad. Because he’s an earth angel, too.

I believe Mom’s earth angel-ness was mostly because she was an incredibly effective communicator simply by being herself. Her natural ability to connect with others was enormous, even when interacting with the biggest knuckleheads, snootiest socialites, and nosiest busybodies. It was in her gaze, her smile, her words. After talking with Mom, folks felt warm and fuzzy inside. She was like a cup of sweet cocoa that warmed you from the inside out.

My mom often advised, “If you know someone’s script, you’ll know what to do.”

She wasn’t referring to manipulation, being fake, or playing a role to get what you want in life.

Rather, Mom’s advice was a path to effectively understanding and communicating with others.

Her recommended approach went something like this:

Slow down and pay attention to others, what they say and do not say. Actively listen way more than you speak. Seek to understand them: What tone of voice makes them receptive? What do they seem to value most—being heard, feeling appreciated, knowing they matter? Do they need a listening ear, your perspective, or both? Tune into their words and their body language.

Doing all of this can help you determine their usual way of being, of operating in the world. Their modus operandi.

And once people show you who they are and you really get it, adjust your approach when interacting with them. Don’t wait for others to make an adjustment—let go of that expectation. Be proactive. Stretch yourself and take the first step. Doing so will benefit you both.

So, if the loudest person in the room obviously craves being the center of attention, let him talk. Recognize that he’ll only reveal his true thoughts and feelings to you one-on-one and if he trusts you completely.

If she complains every time you see her, hug it out. The actual root of her frustration may be something she’s been struggling with for a while. Understand that her whining is not about you.

If they put others (or even you) down all the time, speak kindly to them anyway. Your kind words may be the only ones they hear all day, or ever. Then move on and say a little prayer for them: Because folks who feel good about themselves usually don’t act that way.

These examples just skim the surface of Mom’s approach to learning others’ scripts.

She also taught me the importance of understanding our own scripts. To honestly assess, accept and even adjust our scripts for the greater good. Like when I initially really struggled to balance work time as a freelancer with caring for my aging dad.

Doing it all is in my script. So, I pressured myself to do everything for Dad myself, including a lot of daily one-on-one time for social interaction and cognitive stimulation. My rationale: Even with moderate dementia, Dad is still a social butterfly. He’s energized by talking with others—it’s always been a huge aspect of his script. And grateful that dementia hasn’t changed that part of him, I was feeling I had to do all I could personally to honor that part of him and not let it slip away.

Yet I, the classic introvert, also am energized by quiet solitude—a huge part of my script. And, in caring for all of Dad’s needs during the day, I was still up at 2 a.m. most nights on work deadlines I didn’t meet when the sun was up—and back up by 6 a.m. to get our household moving. (Did I mention I’m a wife and mom, too?)

The results? Still-never-enough interaction to Dad’s satisfaction, and sheer exhaustion for me.

I realized I had to tweak my script to more effectively honor Dad’s script and my own well-being.

So, I ditched the Superwoman, do-it-all mode and sought help—a huge step for me. And I found an amazing resource: a memory wellness day program. Yet Dad’s always balked at the idea of spending time at a senior center. So was it uncomfortable introducing a zero-appeal notion to him? You bet. Did I forge ahead and do it anyway? Yep. And, lo and behold, it’s a hit. Dad’s happily spreading his social butterfly wings with new friends there three days a week. And my late nights are becoming fewer in number.

Mom’s way with others was beautiful to watch, as she built bridges of mutual understanding. Her advice taught me a super-important life lesson: Take the necessary time to learn others as they are, not as we think they are or want them to be. And stay open to tweaking our own scripts when needed. Doing so can mean greater joy with others and for ourselves.

Thank you, Mom.

How well do you understand your own script?
How do you know when you understand someone else’s script?
Share your thoughts below.

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24 thoughts on “Know the Script (3.5-min. read)

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  5. Jermal

    Karin. Thank you for sharing this. Once again you have shed light on something so simple that we constantly seem to forget. God gave us two ears and one mouth, do the math! Your mom was a great communicator and I loved her for how her words always landed in just the right spot. You are an amazing daughter for how much energy and pure love you pour into your father. Your mother is smiling down on the woman you have become.
    For me this piece reminded me that to truly love someone you have to be willing to know them. Who they are at their core. You can’t give unconditional and truly nurturing love if you don’t sincerely know the person you are trying to love. You share that amazing knowledge of each other with your parents and I think it overflows into how you love the rest of us who are fortunate enough to know you.Thanks Cousin! Love Ya.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Jermal, I am so very humbled by all you’ve shared. YOU, my dear, are quite a master communicator in written and spoken word. I know your mom also is grinning from ear to ear, so proud of you. Love you back! 🙂

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  6. Regyna Cooper

    I just love you :-). I feel like we have been having conversations across the kitchen table. Having been in your Mother’s presence, I know first hand, her ability to make you feel at home was a gift that truly had an impact. We have to talk soon, I would love to figure out a way to share this post in an upcoming project. By the way, you carry your Mom’s legacy well.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Regyna, how can I even begin to thank you for such humbling feedback? Thank you so very much. We will certainly talk soon. I’m grateful for your remembrance of my mom’s hospitable spirit, and for reading. Much love to you and the Coopers!

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  7. Nicole Gardner

    I remember as a kid being shocked at the “different faces” of my father. My dad was a high school teacher and musician, later a principal, superintendent and college professor who was (and is) well-known and highly lauded in the small town where I grew up. When I was a kid, I noticed that when my dad spoke with different people he sounded so different. My dad was normally affable and easygoing, but sometimes I would hear him break out the big vocabulary, and sometimes speak to someone in a way that was coarse and caustic, even using curse words… which he certainly didn’t do when he spoke with me! As I and I grew older, I understood that he met people where they were — and communicated with them in their own language. My dad could talk with anyone, college professor, rich businessman, plumber, construction worker, retail clerk, student, and make the person he was speaking with feel heard and valued. I aspire to match his skill but probably fall short. Still, it was a great example to follow! Thanks Karin, for sharing this wonderful part of your mom.

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    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Nicole, it seems your dad also cracked the code on effective communication in his own way! And I’m with you on falling short, but still intent on mastering such an amazing skill. Thanks so much for sharing your dad’s example, 🙂

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  8. Katrina Williams

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m stepping into a new role with an organization and this was the perfect read for me!
    I like to just get it done! Not much time for feelings. I know people like your mom….people who listen intently. I will strive to grow, sow down and listen…
    Thanks Karen!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Katrina, I understand completely about wanting to “just get it done!” Often so hard to resist that, isn’t it? Especially when taking on a new professional role in which we want to succeed. Congrats to you on your new role – I hope having Mom’s wisdom in your “communication toolbox” will be an asset. Thank you for reading and sharing, 🙂

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  9. Latoya Hunt

    Thank you for sharing words of wisdom. That kind of wisdom and advice is part of a dying breed of women. I believe that if we take the time to know (or learn) someone’s script, a lot of our conflicts would not exist.

    “Doing it all is in my script,” I can relate to you with that script, but I am slowly learning that there are times when I need to hang up my cape :).

    This was a much needed read for today. Again, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Latoya, my sincere thanks to you for reading and sharing. We’ve had several conversations about donning our Superwoman capes way too much. So, here’s to hanging up our capes when needed! 🙂

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  10. Tamika

    “Actively listen way more than you speak. ” Those are words to live by from one of the classiest, sweetest and smartest women I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I find myself trying to practice this more often as I get older and find it to be truly helpful. Thanks for this post and I look forward to all of your future posts. You’ve done an excellent job of reminding us to take a minute and “Know The Script”! I can’t wait to read more!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Tamika(!), thank you so much for reading and your very loving response. Please do read the previous posts when you can – and I’m so glad you’ll keeping reading future posts! Hugs to you, 🙂

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  11. Kyri Harris

    Wonderful words of wisdom from two amazing women. Your mom actually made every conversation with her a great experience. The fact that you learned so much from her and actually apply it in your own life speaks to how amazing you are too. Great job!

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  12. Jeanette Chandlee

    I appreciate the honesty and the realnes of the superwoman syndrome. That is me in a nutshell. Learning to be proactive, understanding your limits and taking action, takes much inner strength and evaluation. Thank you for this. Much needed💕.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Jeanette, you’re definitely not alone in navigating the Superwoman/Atlas mode at all! I hope Mom’s guidance will inspire and comfort you on those especially tough days. Big hugs to you for reading and sharing! 🙂

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  13. Nancy Cline

    “And once people show you who they are and you really get it, adjust your approach when interacting with them. Don’t wait for others to make an adjustment—let go of that expectation. Be proactive. Stretch yourself and take the first step. Doing so will benefit you both.”

    Great words of wisdom.

    Using this advice will take you a long way in life. Here are a few of the benefits: fewer apologies needed, fewer misunderstandings and conflicts, ease in relationships, and overall peace in your life. Let go of the expectations and adjust. Thank you Mother Jyancy (I never met you, but I see you in both your daughters.) for that wonderful wisdom.

    Here is Solomon’s take on this: Proverbs 1:5-7 New International Version (NIV)

    5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
    6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.[a]
    7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools[b] despise wisdom and instruction.

    Thank you Karin for sharing. Can’t wait for the next post!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. stretch&grow Post author

      Nancy, you nailed the benefits of Mom’s advice beautifully. I couldn’t agree more. And thank you, too, for sharing the Scriptural reference from Proverbs – that, my friend, is what synergy feels like. 🙂 Thank you for reading and sharing!

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