Don’t Get Your Wires Crossed – Part 1
Throughout my childhood my parents constantly preached about safety issues. First we got the basics: don’t run with scissors, don’t throw pencils, don’t pet stray dogs and don’t talk to strangers. Sound familiar? When we became teenagers the list got more serious. But one rule was ingrained in us from a very early age: Never put anything with electrical wiring in water!
One of our favorite wedding gifts was an electric blanket – a luxury on cold winter nights. Even better, it had dual controls so we could regulate the temperature settings on our respective sides. I usually kept my dial set at “3” and Les kept his at “1”. While I loved sleeping under that blanket, I was extremely nervous the first time I washed it. I kept thinking about that rule: Never put anything with electrical wiring in water! Now I was to put this blanket in my washing machine, get it totally saturated, dry it, put it back on the bed and plug it into an electrical outlet! As we made the bed that night, I was prepared to call “911”.
Talking about our day, we failed to pay attention to one small detail. As we reached for the wires under the bed to plug our controls in, we didn’t realize that our wires had somehow gotten crossed. My controls were plugged into Les’ side of the blanket, and his controls were plugged into my side. Since it was a cold evening I quickly turned my control unit from “3” to “5.” I waited and still didn’t feel warmer, so I turned my dial up to “7.” Still nothing. Finally, I spun the dial up to “10.” A few minutes later Les threw back the covers, jumped out of bed and said, “I must have a fever! I’m burning up!” “That’s strange,” I mumbled sleepily. “I’m freezing.”
It only took a minute to figure out what had happened and fix the problem. Ever since then, the phrase “we got our wires crossed” has always been good for a laugh. But communication breakdowns today are not a laughing matter. People are busier than ever and the past few years have definitely increased our stress and anxiety levels. It’s no wonder that communication begins to suffer when busy, stressed out people think, “Who has time to communicate? Too many other things to worry about!” So how can we uncross those wires that can lead to misunderstandings, anger, frustration, resentment, low morale, less productive days at work and at home, and physical ailments related to increased stress? Now that I’ve “set the scene’ with my story, I’ll give you the answers next week. So stay tuned!