Psst... Pass It On.


My wife and I were grocery shopping. A young boy was standing idly in front of a customer ticket-generating machine we wanted to access. My wife, in a gentle, friendly manner said "Excuse me, sir, may I sneak in front of you for a second?" The little boy looked up at her as he stepped aside, and she said "I like your hat." The little boy smiled and said thank you.

Now, this was a perfectly innocent exchange. The little boy learned how to interrupt someone in a positive way and he had a nice moment with an adult. The two adult women with him didn't see it that way. They looked at my wife with daggers in their eyes and, as the saying goes, if looks could kill . . .

This event occurred weeks post-Ferguson and days post-New York City, both locations having experienced police-involved deaths.

25 years earlier a similar incident happened to my wife in a grocery store. Two young children were shopping with their mother. My wife struck up a conversation with them. Their mother accurately interpreted the silent communicators of friendship and sincerity and she used her life experiences in a positive way and chose to recognize an opportunity for friendship. Those two children eventually graduated from college and became life-long friends of our family.

What are we passing on to our children? Are we passing on the mistakes of our predecessors or are we teaching them how to build on the blocks of success that have been achieved in the midst of fits of violent disharmony?

In our program for high school students titled "You Are Here . . . now what?" we teach communication from the perspective of the sender of the message as well as from the perspective of the receiver of the message, and we spend time discussing the art of crafting a message. We meet with the students for one hour per week. Communication is taught over an entire semester each of the four high school years. We cover communication in great detail, all types of communication, and we bolster it with activities. When we are finished, students are armed with the tools needed to accurately interpret messages and they are able to respond appropriately.

I will never forget a lesson learned early in life. An elderly gentleman told me, "Son, you will always get exactly what you're looking for." What he meant was if you are looking to pick a fight with someone you will find a reason to fight. If you are looking to overlook imperfections and make a friend, you will find a way to make a friend. The youngest among us are looking to adults as examples of how to live life. We are certainly not perfect examples. We make mistakes. Our children will learn our lessons, good and bad, as we pass them on.

For additional information about Outfluence, LLC or to learn how to bring You Are Here . . . Now What? to your high school, visit our Contact Page, and drop us a line.