Communication

Let the Power of Discovery Begin at Home

Black Family

(Photo Credit: Black Enterprise)

Before you go out exploring phenomena outside of your home, discover the new things you can learn about those inside of your home.  How often do you ask questions to those in your immediate family?  How well do you really know your family members?  Too often we assume we know a tremendous amount about our immediate family members, but there can be so many things we don’t know about them.  Many people can be so busy trying to find out what’s going on in other people’s homes that they’re missing the greatest attractions developing inside of their own homes.

Parents, how well do you know your children’s friends?  For parents with older children who are in relationships, how well do you know the individuals they’re in relationships with?  Do you know why your children decided to be in relationships with these individuals?  How did they first meet and what attracted them?  Are your children too secretive about their relationships?  Why?  Do you have children you find it strange that they are even in intimate relationships?  Have you asked questions that will provide you with more information to make it less strange?  These aforementioned queries are just some you can posed to members of your immediate family to discover some potentially novel things.

One of the best ways to build and maintain strong families is to place a strong value on communication in your home.  Your home should be a place where frank and open communication are truly valued.  The members of your immediate family should feel comfortable to talking to one another about virtually anything.  One thing I’m very proud of about my immediate family is the members of the family feel comfortable talking to one another about anything.  We can share things with one another without feeling like any member is going to bring condemnation for what’s disclosed.  My immediate family is loving and supportive, and it has been the welcoming and embracing of frank and unrestricted communication that has been essential to the love in my family.

If you talk more to your immediate family members, you may learn ways you can be useful in helping them to overcome physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual challenges and problems.  Before sending a family member to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, determine if this is even necessary.  Those situated inside the home can serve as the only psychologist or psychiatrist the person needs.  We often miss opportunities to be helpful to those who live in our own homes because we allow ourselves to become too busy to look for the potential needs of our family members.

Use this piece as a conversation-starter with the members of your immediate family.  Let this piece become a way for you to ask questions of the members of your immediate family that you’ve always wanted to know or failed to ask.  You may discover some things about your immediate family members you needed to know before they died.  Don’t make your family members think you’ve turned into a private investigator (unless you truly are one).  Just let them know you want to grow closer as a family through the power of discourse and inquiry.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Get to the Heart of the Matter

White Couple

(Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

When you desire to have a serious discourse with someone, be sure you’re ready to be transparent with him or her. Beating around the metaphorical bush with the person you’re communicating with can cause him or her to distrust you.  It can appear to him or her that you have something to hide.  If you truly don’t have anything to conceal from the person, then get to the heart of the matter; that is, let the person know what’s truly on your mind.  When you’re having an important conversation with an individual and you’re not as forthcoming as possible, one has to wonder if it’s really a conversation or not; it could just be a performance.

No one wants to feel like he or she is banging his or her head against the wall just to get you to offer a smidgen of candor.  The reality is many people aren’t prepared to engage in frank discourses with others.  One can posit that most relationship problems, including legal separations and divorces, are a result of a failure to have bold communication.  Too many people lack the boldness to have the conversations that need to take place.

People will never really know what’s bothering you if you’re not willing to tell them.  You will discover that it’s liberating to disclose to people how you’re really feeling.

Although it may not be what you want to hear, you reveal yourself to be a coward when you lack the courage to say what needs to be said.  This is why it’s vital to help people to overcome their fears.  By helping more people to overcome their fears, there will be a reduction in the number of people who allow the fear to communicate candidly to hinder or sever their various relationships.

Some people are afraid to have bold conversations because they are fearful of confrontation.  It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing confrontation.  Those individuals who aren’t afraid of confrontation and who aren’t afraid to have frank discourses with you are demonstrating maturity.  There will be some who will say they just love drama, but the reality is mature people never leave what needs to be said unsaid.

Being bold about what you say does not mean being intentionally hurtful to others.  You can speak truthfully to people without being abrasive. Just don’t let the potential of someone getting hurt by your words prevent you from saying what needs to be said, however.  Ultimately, the person who receives your candid words will be better off having heard your words.

When a person is honest with you, what he or she says to you may make you angry.  Give the person credit for being truthful.  Respond to the truth in a mature way.  You don’t want people to avoid speaking candidly to you because they know you will react immaturely.  The way we receive truth will unveil important revelations about us, even some revelations we may not be ready to receive.

It’s time to get real with the people around you, and it’s time to get real with yourself.  Have the essential discourses you need to have today.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Transparent, Direct and Substantive Critiques

Black Men Arguing

When you’re attempting to critique someone, be sure the critique is transparent, substantive and direct.  If you truly intend for the critique to have an impact on the individual, then deliver the critique directly to the person—not to someone else or through any other indirect communication medium.  Now, if you’re just blowing off steam, that’s one thing but if you have an authentic desire for your critique of someone to have a lasting effect, then you want to say what you have to say about the person via a face-to-face meeting, over the phone, email, or a letter.  In order to ensure what you have to say has substance, be as specific as possible about what you intend to communicate.

America is filled with too many people who are cowards.  If you’re going to “tell someone off,” when are you actually going to talk to that person directly?  Are you really “telling someone off” when you are talking about that person to everyone except that particular person?

Before your critique will have any significance, you’re going to need to shed any sugarcoated language that may be a part of the critique.  Stop worrying about hurting people’s feelings when you get ready to critique them.  If what you have to say is going to destroy a person’s life, then just allow it to destroy the person’s life; he or she is the one who is crazy for letting what you have to say destroy his or her life.

One way to shut someone’s mouth who is trying to critique you in a clandestine and malicious way is to engage that person in a public discourse.  If he or she is really interested in having a truly transparent conversation, then he or she will not mind having the needed conversation in front of an audience.  I’m a person who loves engaging in a public discourse with people who want to critique me, especially those who like to offer their critiques of me in devious and malevolent ways.  The more people listening to me really “let you have it” is always more interesting and fun for me.

It’s time out for playing games with people.  Don’t let someone verbally pound away at you indirectly.  When you’re able to recognize that someone is running his or her mouth about you in private to people, which can be made obvious by how certain people respond to you now and how they respond to that person, call that person out!  Stop letting people off the hook!

Do you really want to offer a critique about someone or would it be better for you to keep it to yourself?  Are you really prepared for the person’s rebuttal to your critique?  Is the reason why you will not give your critique to the person in a direct way a result of your cowardice?

You have to realize that people aren’t going to keep letting you say negative things about them and not eventually respond to you in ways you may not be ready to handle.  Think about the things you say and do before you let them go forth.

Be sure you have the appropriate evidence to substantiate what you have to say about someone.  The people you’re making angry might be able to respond to your critique with arguments and evidence of their own about you that can shut your mouth for eternity.  Again, think before you react!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keep Squares Out of Your Circle

You’re responsible for the people you allow to be in your circle.  When you’re constantly frustrated about the people you choose to accept in your circle, then you deserve to be frustrated—you have no one to blame but yourself.  Keep people around you who are going to help you to progress.  Don’t attempt to disassociate with individuals who are going to hold you accountable to high standards and who offer you substantive critiques you need to hear.  Too many people cast away those who they should retain in their circle and discard those they need to keep.

The people you have in your circle are going to play an instrumental role in your success and continued success.  If you’re a truly mature adult, you will deal with those in your circle in a straightforward way.  When you’re a mature adult, you will not communicate with them in third person and send indirect messages to them using various social media platforms.

Although it’s vital to surround yourself with positive people, this does not mean you should have a bunch of head nodding yes men around you.  You shouldn’t want the majority of the people in your circle to sit around in awe of you; you should want people around you who merit awe too.  Many people maintain a circle of friends and associates who aren’t going to threaten their weak self-esteem, but the truth is you need people around you who are candidly willing to tell you that you need to do something to ameliorate your low self-esteem.  While you don’t want someone who is persistently trying to maliciously attack you to stay around you, you should want people in your circle who aren’t afraid to offer you constructive criticism even when you don’t solicit it.

Arguing

Too often people are so concerned about associating with “rubber stamp” people that they don’t give much focus to the tangible signs revealing those individuals aren’t really their supporters.  The reality is when “rubber stamp” people hang around one another, especially all the time, it becomes nothing more than a futile competition between themselves.

While some people like to boast about having an extensive circle of close friends, the truth is you really don’t have but a few true close friends, and when you recognize this, you free yourself from a certain incapacitating ignorance.

Make an honest assessment of the individuals you consider to be in your circle.  If those individuals add no value to your life, then you may want to consider removing them for your circle—just make sure you’re not eliminating someone from you circle who refuses to accept mediocrity from you.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

“Pain is Love” by Jason “Juice” Williams: A Critical Assessment

Jason "Juice" Williams

One of the most talented independent artists in America is irrefutably Jason “Juice” Williams. Juice’s exceptional talent and oeuvre have been acknowledged by Soul Train, Revolutionary Paideia, and many others. On March 9, 2013 at the Albany James H. Gray, Sr. Civic Center in Albany, Georgia at 9:00 p.m., he will be performing live with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. The purpose of this article is to provide an assessment of the dominant messages about love and relationships Juice’s “Pain is Love,” which is a single from his album A&J Live (2002), offer.

One recurrent theme in Juice’s full body of work is the notion of love being a nuanced phenomenon that’s never devoid of conflict. Even in his second album, 100% Concentration (2005), one can see how this aforementioned treatment of love is conspicuous. In “Pain is Love,” the artist communicates that problems can emerge even when they are not intentionally created. Those inadvertently engendered problems can cause pain for one or both individuals involved in a relationship. Even if the relationship terminates, Juice exposes the enduring pain often left unresolved.

The artist asks the lady for “just one minute” of her time to articulate how he feels about her and the love they have shared. The song, therefore, advocates for frank communication to be a significant part of the healing process in a relationship impacted by emotional pain. For those involved in relationships, it’s crucial to understand that candid communication is essential to overcoming problems. This candid communication must be guided by love, of course. Too often the lines of communication are shutdown when people are hurting in a relationship. If the lines of communication continue to be shutdown, the relationship is doomed to end inevitably. It will ultimately not be about the pain that caused fissures in the relationship, but it will be more about the failure to communicate that’s the authentic reason why the relationship ceases.

“Pain is Love” informs the listener that when you have real love for someone, you don’t intentionally inflict pain on him or her. This is an important message many people in relationships need to hear and embrace. Too many people, especially men, talk about how much they love the one they’re in a relationship with, but that “love” often is not strong enough to keep them from cheating on their partner. True love keeps you from being deceitful and unfaithful.

Jason "Juice" Williams

The artist longs to be with his lost love but she’s no longer by his side.

How frequent do we think about how our foolish actions can lead to the end of our relationships?

We should think more about how the things we’re doing can result in us losing the one we love and can cause us to experience a lifetime of pain.

The artist discloses that love will turn into pain if you are negligent in your relationship. You should never forget about showing the person you love how much you love him or her. If you abandon your duties in your relationship, you may discover just how much pain is love.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Tips for Aspiring Journalists

Journalism

Although I do not consider myself to be an expert journalist, I do have enough experience and success to offer aspiring journalists some useful tips.  The tips I provide in this piece will be useful for anyone interested in becoming a journalist of any type.

1.      Embrace the notion of writing as a process.  Too often new journalists are producing pieces that have not been carefully written.  When people read your writing, they don’t want to read pieces that have not taken full advantage of the complete writing process.  Make sure you edit your writing for grammar and mechanics errors.  People are too eager to publish things without editing their work for grammar and mechanics errors.  You might also read the following piece: “Prewriting: A Neglected Stage of the Writing Process”.  In order to be an effective writer, you need to give yourself plenty of practice writing.  You should write daily.  If you’re serious about being a journalist, you will love writing and find time to do it each day.

 2.      Enroll in a challenging Journalism program.  If you really want to become an effective journalist, you will enroll in a Journalism program at a university that will challenge you to be the best journalist you can be.  Do your research to find the right Journalism program for you.  Be sure that it’s a program that has a strong emphasis in writing.  Many Journalism programs will emphasize everything except for writing.  If you’re going to become a successful journalist, you will need to be an effective writer.

 3.      Cover substantive stories, issues, and problems.  Too many journalists are covering stories, issues, and problems that lack substance.  As an aspiring journalist, you don’t want people to not want to read and hear what you have say because they know you’re not going to discuss phenomena important to them.  Invest the necessary time in covering things that will matter to many people.  Research the issues, stories, and problems the average American wants to read and hear.

 4.      Be innovative and distinctive.  Find ways to be creative and set yourself apart from the rest of aspiring and extant journalists.

 5.      Be willing to ask tough and probing questions.  When you’re interviewing people, don’t be afraid to ask them challenging and probing questions.  Your readers and viewers will appreciate you for being willing to ask questions they want answered.  Too often existing journalists leave their readers and viewers unsatisfied because they lack the courage to ask the tough and probing questions to gain the answers average Americans desire to know.

 6.      Don’t let your politics harm you professionally.  Do not allow your politics to keep you from covering certain topics.  When you start limiting yourself to what you will cover, you begin to diminish the possibilities of what you can become as a journalist.  As an aspiring journalist, it may not be a good idea for you to immediately declare yourself as being a “liberal journalist” or “conservative journalist.”  If you want to be a liberal or conservative journalist, wait until you have reached a level of success that these labels will not harm you professionally.

7.      As much as possible, be objective in your reporting.  As much as you are able, don’t let your personal biases creep into your journalism.  If you’re given an opportunity to offer your personal analysis, then feel free to divulge your opinions.  You want your readers and viewers to perceive you as a credible journalist they can trust.

8.      Dress professionally.  Many people judge whether a person is a credible journalist by the way he or she dresses.  Wear attire that is going to convey that you’re a professional.

9.      Practice giving presentations.  To be an effective journalist, you will need to be able to communicate well orally.  One of the main reasons people cannot give successful oral presentations is they don’t properly prepare themselves.  You should, therefore, always be prepared for your oral presentations.  When you have prepared yourself well for your presentation, you will feel more confident about it.

10.  Commit yourself to the craft.  If you want to be a successful journalist, you need to really devote yourself to doing what it takes to be an effective journalist.  When you know you have weaknesses, you need to work on them.  If writing is not your strength, then you need to work on improving your writing each day.  If public speaking is your weakness, you need to work on ameliorating your ability to communicate effectively in public.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Give People Their Deserved Closure

Black Couple Breaking Up

When you have shared a special intimate relationship with someone, don’t just stop communicating with him or her.  An abrupt termination of communication with someone you have been intimate with for a significant period of time can leave him or her feeling more than heartbroken but also confused.  The person will be confused because he or she does not have any idea why things were so good when between you and then you just all of sudden stopped communicating with the person.  If you no longer want to be intimate with the person and/or don’t see the relationship as special any longer, then let the person know—don’t just have him or her wondering what’s going on with the relationship.

Open and frank communication is key to addressing most (if not all) relationship problems.  Have the courage to communicate with the person you have shared an intimate and special relationship with to inform him or her about your feelings.  Don’t simply say that “you’ve been so busy” as the reason why you’ve not communicated with him or her.  If you have the person’s telephone number and/or connected with the person via various social media platforms, it would not take you but a few minutes to communicate with him or her.  Without any communication, you run the risk of making the person think what you shared with him or her was not real.  The person can be justified in this line of thinking when all communication from you has ceased.

If the person contacts you through any vehicle, don’t simply ignore his or her effort to reach out to you—respond back to him or her.  Why would you simply ignore a call, email, text message, and etc. from someone you have shared an intimate and special relationship with?  You owe the person an explanation for not communicating with him or her.  The reason you have discontinued communicating with the person may be legitimate.  You, however, have a responsibility to inform the person about your reason(s) for no longer communicating with him or her is legitimate.

While you may not be making a conscious choice not to communicate with this person, you never know what he or she is thinking.  The person can mistake the absence of communication as sign of betrayal and/or that you simply used him or her.  This can be far from the truth but you have to bear the responsibility.  You didn’t communicate and this opened up an opportunity for the person to develop inaccurate thoughts.

Whenever sex has been involved in a relationship, it is wise for you to have the decency to at least end the relationship with some form of communication.  Hopefully, you’re going to give the person enough details to understand why you’re deciding to end a relationship he or she thought was just fine.  Let the person know the significant factors that led to your decision.  You might be surprised how well he or she takes your comments and might understand your comments better than you think.

Don’t simply resolve not to say anything to a person you’ve shared a special and intimate relationship with—communicate with him or her.  If the intimate relationship you had with the person was truly special and you communicated in the past that it was indeed special, then you have a duty to communicate with the person today.  Give people the closure they need today!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison