Comedic motivational speaker Christine Cashen knows that we’re all tired and busy and stressed. But we don’t have to be. According to Cashen, we all are responsible for letting ourselves feel stretched too thin, and she’s on a mission to put a stop to our tendency to complain about our stressful, busy lives without doing anything concrete to improve them.
“Everyone is whining about things they can’t change—and don’t look at their responsibility to make things happen in their lives,” she said. “So we’re going to look at ways to communicate better, get along. How to have more time, more energy, less stress, more fun. And we all need more of that.”
Some highlights from her presentation at the recent ROFDA Fall Conference in San Antonio, Texas, included learning to tailor communications with each other to be more effective and “programming” ourselves to be better, happier people.
The Whos, Whats, Whys and Hows
To effectively communicate with one other and stop the whining, we have to understand each other’s personality types, said Cashen, who has identified four personality types: the Whos, the Whats, the Whys and the Hows.
The Whos know everybody. They know who is happy, who is stressed and whose birthday it is.
“We don’t know how they know, but they know. And you know who you are,” Cashen said. “You might know some of these people because they usually have the snacks at their desk… The Who people know about everybody. They like morale high. They want everyone to get along.”
The Whys are the rebels, prone to questioning the way things are done.
“Why don’t we do it this way? Why don’t we do it that way?” said Cashen. “You might be this person if you see the ‘road closed’ sign and you go, ‘Pfft, looks good to me. I don’t know why these pylons are still here.’”
The Whats are the most focused. What do you want? What do you need? What’s up?
“The What people are living large and in charge. We all hate stupid people, but these people really dislike incompetence in any way, shape or form,” she said.
Finally, the Hows are analytical and need all the details of a project or plan before they’re on board.
“How long is it going to take? How much is it going to cost? How could we possibly do that with the staff that we have on the numbers that we’re working with?”
While knowing your own personality type—or blend of types—can be helpful, it’s understanding colleagues’ types that really helps you communicate.
“So here’s what you do,” Cashen said. “(Speak) the other person’s language. If you’re talking to a Who, you better go to Whoville. Because if you’re a What talking to a Who—and there are a lot of Whats out there—you come over and you’re like, ‘Hey, what’s up, what’s going on, here’s what we need.’ The Who says, ‘Excuse me, can I get a good morning? Somebody didn’t get coffee. Do you need a snack, honey? Are you hungry?’ They need to warm up.”
That style of communication needs to change for each personality type—something no-fuss, straight to the point for the Whats and lots of detail right off the bat for the Hows.
“And the Why people, they need to know the why behind things, even if it’s none of their business. In fact, especially if it’s none of their business!” Cashen said.
It’s also important to tailor your communications based on delivery method. That can mean choosing not to use email when you’re discussing something sensitive or a subject likely to get heated—or just talking with someone you don’t care for.
“Don’t do that. Always pick up the phone. Any tone of voice can be (perceived) on any message. It doesn’t matter what it is,” Cashen added. “Plus, you never know how that’s going to get forwarded, who’s going to see it, what happens and how it’s interpreted. So be really, really careful.”
You are what you think
A lot of the negativity in our lives is actually coming from ourselves, not the people or situations around us, Cashen said.
“Someone can make you mad. You can stay there, or you can move on. You never really have a bad day. You have bad moments that you let control your day.”
Luckily, Cashen has some solutions, including her “two-hour good mood commitment,” which she says can make you happier and more energetic.
“The first two hours of the day—I’m not asking for much, two hours—you wake up and no matter what happens, you say, ‘I’m in a really good mood.’ You don’t have to act like it…You just say it,” she said. “Do you ever lay down and then it’s morning? ‘God, that was my rest? It’s a good thing I’m in a good mood. (I’m) like a machine. I don’t need any sleep at all.’ You go to the refrigerator, you open it up, you take out the orange juice and it’s empty. Normally, that would make me mad. Not today. Why? ‘It’s a good thing I’m in a good mood.’”
If you can keep that up for the first full two hours of your day, you’ll find at the end of it that you actually are in a good mood. And that can be infectious.
“When people ask you how you are, do they really care? No! Just a ritual greeting, right?…You say fine, I say fine, we keep walking,” Cashen said. “Not the first two hours of the day. People ask you how you are: ‘I’m in a great mood.’ Keep walking. And they get really curious. It’s awesome. People will follow you down the hall.”
The same type of self-programming can work in other aspects of your life, too, she said.
“I used to have a problem being extremely clumsy. Trip, fall and a lot of it occurs on stage, which is really bad.”
After one particularly scary on-stage fall—she was seven months pregnant at the time—she told the audience, “I will now be taking questions from the floor.” She had prepared that line beforehand for the next time that she tripped and fell on stage.
“I was planning my next wipeout! ‘Next time I fall,’” she said. “Be careful what you’re programming your brain with. Be careful what you’re programming, because it’s amazing how it’s like your internal GPS with your dialogue. So now when things happen, I’m like ‘Oh! What a surprise. Usually I’m so graceful.’”
This trick can work for other consistent problems, like difficulty remembering names.
“You want to keep reversing it. And now I’m not accident free, but it’s getting better,” Cashen said. “So think about what you say to yourself on a regular basis.”
By pretending to be in a good mood or to be good at something you struggle with long enough, you might find that you’ve trained yourself into some good habits.
*Editor’s note: Find more coverage of the ROFDA Fall Conference in the January 2017 print editions of The Shelby Report.