Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Relationships and communication.

I was going to write a (hopefully) humorously scathing piece on bad bosses.
I have had more than my fair share of them, especially those bosses that 'talk the talk' but don't actually follow through and do anything. You know the ones, they don't communicate honestly or well. Here is a recent example:

Boss : "Tell me what I can do, to help you do your job to the best of your abilities"

Me: "Well, as I am on the road 4 days a week doing one-off visits to people living all over the city and it's outlying suburbs.. I really need a GPS"

Boss: "Sure, ummm can you email these people at head office and see if you can track a spare one down and... let me know how you go."

Me (After contacting several people via phone and email.): "No one has one. It was suggested to put a request through to I.T. They can order one for us and bill our business unit."

Boss: "OK, thanks for doing that. Can you give me some quotes for a GPS from this large chain store?"

Me (months after providing the quotes to my boss): "Hi, just wondering how you are going with those quotes for the GPS I emailed you a while back, I really need one."

Boss: "Sorry, I have been really busy, umm.. can you email them to me again and I'll look at that and get back to you"

Me: "Ok, just to remind you, one was $100 for a year of maps and then you pay to update your maps after that, and the other one was $150 for a lifetime of maps."

Boss: "Yeah thanks, if you could send me another email, that would be great."

Me (again, months later): "I know you are busy, but I really need a GPS and am wondering how you are going with that request?

Boss: "why do you need a GPS? no one else needs one?"

Me: " I am on the road traveling to new locations 4 days a week in various suburbs of Melbourne. I am currently printing off paper maps on Fridays for the week ahead, amidst doing all my other admin work for the visits I have just completed and doing follow up work. Going into google maps and printing off the screens is slow and time consuming, and uses lots of paper. The work i-phone has a tiny screen which I cannot properly see when driving. I have tried using the voice directions on their own, but as I am concentrating on the road and other drivers, I find that I am missing what was said.  Which means I often have to pull over to safely look at the screen and see where I should be turning, or to see which turn I just missed."

Boss: "I still don't understand why you need a GPS"

I never got the GPS, but I did leave that job after one too many similar situations (and much worse).

I was thinking about the importance of clear and honest communication. About how it is essential to all areas of our lives, be it work, home, friends, family, partners etc.

I was thinking of when you are in a relationship and the other person does something you are not happy with. There is that struggle: do I say something right now? If so, what is the best way of saying this so that they can hear what is being said and do not feel attacked? Is this more about me? Is this significant or important enough to raise? or... the classic - they saw the way I reacted and this is enough to let them know I was not happy and I am sure this won't happen again!

Where do you draw the line about what is important enough to raise? How do you ensure that what has not been raised, does not sit in a growing and festering pool of what has not been said, to possibly one day overflow and become much bigger than need be? In other words, how do you minimise the risk of a future explosion of bottled issues?

If you and the other person have differing communication styles, how do you find the middle ground?
Take the word 'person' out and replace it with partner, friend, boss, brother/sister etc.
Apparently, relationships don't just happen, they involve work!

I was recently listening to Billy Bragg on ABC's 'In conversation' and he talked about being with his partner for 22 years. He said that the really big challenge in relationships is to maintain them. His song 'Chasing Rainbows" off his 2013 LP "Tooth and Nail", is himself at 55 years of age, exploring questions such as: trying to keep up with your partners expectations, and also how to try and manage these expectations.

Billy is a great lyricist and this track has some great lines, such as:

"I know you think if I just tried
We would never fight at all
But I know there will still be days into which some rain must fall
So I'll do my best to meet the test
But darling don't forget
If you go chasing rainbows
Then you're bound to end up getting wet."

Billy Bragg - "Chasing Rainbows"

I would add that we should also be asking ourselves 'how do we also manage our own expectations of our partner/boss/friend/family member and our own expectations on how our relationships SHOULD be?' Yes, 'should' and according to whom?

I recently found myself with one of those classic thoughts, that we all have at some point. A thought that I am glad I caught early on, before it had a chance to become something more than a small thought: "Why should I keep putting in the effort when the other person doesn't. 'They' need to step up and put in as much effort as I do!". Yep, and you know what happens once you stop making an effort.

It is 'ok' and completely normal to feel tired or exhausted from time to time. I know that. If you did decide to stop making an effort, that is completely fine as well, as long as you are really honest and clear with yourself about why you stopped and what the implications for the relationship are due to this. Be really honest, did you stop because you are game playing? Is it tit for tat? Or do you simply not care anymore? Is not making an effort, in line with how you want to be in a relationship? Whether it is your boss, friend or partner? By acting in this way, are you living in integrity?

I guess that is one of the key questions. How do you remain in integrity in your communications and in your relationships.  Be it boss, partner, friend, brother, sister, whomever.

Being in a relationship, being one imperfect human with another, means that there will be difficult times. There will be times ahead where you may feel that communication could be better and that one or both of you are not living up to 'expectations'. The trick is how you manage these times. How you uncover what the issues are, what the expectations are and how you work through them together. Just like any team effort, sometimes that means that one person puts in a little more, in order for the team to reach the goal. Sometimes only one of the team members have the necessary skills needed to successfully deal with that particular issue. Sometimes it is the other way round. The important thing is honest, clear and respectful communication.

Anyway... Now to work out what it means to manage 'those times'.

I should finish on something light. Perhaps a joke?

Q: why did the chicken cross the road?

A: to get it's boss a quote for a GPS.

Friday, June 5, 2015

New images June 2015

I thought it time to share some new-ish photographs and abstract photographic works.

These two were seen on a wall in Fitzroy. I love how the image of the skull has been torn and you can see layers where different people (and the elements) contributed to what I captured with the camera.

Bricolage is, in basic terms, work created from what is around you and at hand. These next three images were created with what I had in my studio. They are an exploration of colour and light.


These next two images are studies. One is of organic plant life, and the other is of feathers.They are photographs.

all photographs copyright matthew schiavello 2015