When Things Aren’t as They Seem – with Jill Tolles

This week’s guest blog comes from our friend Jill Tolles.  Jill was one of our fantastic speakers at the 2014 LEXI Women’s Leadership Summit in Reno. She is a dynamic speaker and communicator, and one of the Shandel and John supporters. Thank you, Jill, for helping the Chandelle Group/True Life Coaching Team as we endeavor to provide Shandel the time and space to prepare for her upcoming wedding!

Here’s Jill…………

Every year, my husband and I go fly fishing with the Great Waters Outfitters in Montana with his dad and a group of friends. One day we were banked on the side of the Big Hole River, tying new flies onto our lines when I watched the strangest thing happen. There was a boat with two men in the middle of the river. One man had just caught a white fish, considered a trash fish in the trout inhabited waters. After he examined it, he proceeded to hold it by the tail and slam its head against the side of the boat, killing it instantly. He then held it up with both hands over his head and hurled it into the center of the river.

Immediately, I was offended. Why would he do that? I asked our river guide and he had no idea. He agreed it was strange and was as puzzled as I was. My blood started to boil at the, albeit small, act of what I deemed senseless animal abuse and disregard for life. I was revving up to confront the man with an emboldened, “Hey, nice sportsmanship!” when I noticed him look directly at me and point above my head.

Just then, I heard a whooshing sound and looked up to see an enormous wingspan of at least six feet spread out above me.

Edwin Way Teale described the bald eagle in the Atlantic Monthly,1957. “Above all other birds it is the soaring eagle, with its size and weight, that gives the most abiding impression of power and purpose in the air. It advances solidly like a great ship cleaving the swells and thrusting aside the smaller waves. It sails directly where lesser birds are rocked and tilted by the air currents.”

I watched as the bald eagle swooped down to snatch the white fish in his talons and carry it back to its nest 75 feet above me at the top of a Lodgepole Pine. It was the most majestic creature I have ever seen.

I was humbled and suddenly aware of how I had misjudged the situation. I was also extremely thankful that I didn’t call out the man in the boat for what I had deemed despicable behavior.

It is easy to assume we have all the information and to be quick to pass judgment on someone or something before we have heard all sides of the story.

There are many times I have rushed into sharing my opinions on a situation only to have to eat my words later. Backtracking is not fun. It would have been better to take a breath, ask some questions, look at it from all angles and still say nothing unless I am asked.

There is absolutely a time to use our voice, confront, call to the carpet, advocate, and judge rightly.  But if we are prone to being judgmental, quick tempered and overly opinionated, we might find that we need to adapt a more anatomically correct way of communicating.

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. 

Use them proportionately.

- Jill Tolles
407218_446adcb4abfc4cd3bbef9f8b7356feaf.jpg_srz_120_154_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzJill Tolles is an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Reno in the Department of Communication Studies in addition to teaching at classes at  Multnomah College and the National Judicial College. She specializes in Public Speaking, Listening, and Small Group Communication. In addition, she teaches Business and Professional Speaking, Communication between the Sexes, Interpersonal Conflict, and Interpersonal Communication. She is chair of the Washoe County School District’s Say Yes for Kids committee, a member of the Senate Task Force for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, and a pro bono lobbyist for Parent Leaders for Education. Before teaching, Ms. Tolles worked for a non-profit and then joined the private sector as the Northern Nevada Regional Manager for ADP.

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