“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” – Harriet Van Horne.
The problem with being a good cook is that everybody expects you to produce amazingly good food every single time! There are no exceptions and no excuses are accepted. Once you are on the good cook list, you really have to work hard to stay in the top 10 and people are just incredibly fussy, judgmental and often damn you with faint praise. Cheap and cheerful recipes are not for you. If you are a good cook, here are 8 struggles which will certainly resonate with you.
1. You have to adjust the menu because…..
You telephone your guests well in advance and ask if they have any dietary restrictions. You can cope with vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant and even gluten free. The only problem is that when somebody adds a last minute guest who just happens to be lactose intolerant and you have ordered mozzarella cheese from your local dairy. You bang the saucepan on the counter top and feel perfectly justified in never inviting them again.Advertising
2. You cannot find that spice.
Guess what? The turmeric spice which is an essential spice in your curry just happens to be behind all the other things in the spice cupboard. You are also running out of time and growling while tempted to throw everything on the floor.
3. You hate guests who arrive early.
The final countdown. Quite frankly, it is sometimes scary. These are the moments when everything has to mesh together for that perfect dinner party and then the doorbell rings. They hope you don’t mind they are half an hour early and they will not disturb you! You can cope with late guests up to a certain point but the early ones can ruin everything.
4. You love perfection but it is not easy.
Can you remember a dinner that went perfectly? The starters were gobbled up and there were enthusiastic murmurs. The pasta dish was perfectly done in a delicious sauce which was just right. Not too salty, not too bland, the pasta not too much ‘al dente’. The roast was perfectly cooked and not too dry and the syllabub was perfectly smooth and the ginger spice was not too strong. Dream on! There will always be something that just did not quite make the grade. Well, 90% is not so bad and you think that your friends’ cooking is pretty mediocre anyway. You remember when you had to eat those miserable, shrivelled up quails the last time you were invited to their place!Advertising
5. You wait for the compliments that never come.
We all crave praise. It is human. But sometimes your dinner guests get caught up in some awful political discussion while you hope they will be distracted enough to give you a little praise. If only they knew the effort you made in ordering the right cut of meat, the detours you made to get the fresh vegetables, not to mention the problems in finding the fresh cream at the dairy because your normal shop had run out. Yes, it was Sunday and you should have known but you would never mention all that!
6. You dare not to experiment with a new dish.
It is just not worth the stress. I have decided never again to try out something new on my guests as it is far too risky. You have studied all the guru chefs and crawled the Internet for the perfect recipe. But it is much better to try it out on your own. Yes, it is a waste of food, energy, blood, sweat, and tears. But you know, it is worth it because there are times when you think ‘Thank goodness I did not try that on my guests.’ You also console yourself with the fact that cooking is a science and it is not about throwing some ingredients in a crockpot.
“There are people who claim to be instinctive cooks, who never follow recipes or weigh anything at all. All I can say is that they’re not very fussy about what they eat. For me, cooking is an exact art and not some casual game.” – Delia Smith.
7. You refuse to take shortcuts.
“The radiation left over from the Big Bang is the same as that in your microwave oven but very much less powerful. It would heat your pizza only to minus 271.3°C – not much good for defrosting the pizza, let alone cooking it.” – Stephen Hawking
You will rarely use the microwave of course. That is not real cooking. There are some shortcuts you refuse to take because you are a good cook and you want to keep your reputation. I have lots of friends who can spot home made pasta, fresh fish and even home made pie crust. Taking shortcuts just does not work. You have to do it the hard old way. That reminds me, I rarely make homemade vegetable stock and so far, I have got away with it!
8. You are always learning.
You spend hours researching and studying recipes and nobody realizes that. Of course, you learn from your mistakes and Julia Child recommends that good cooks should be fearless and have a lot of fun. You should also reflect on your successes and praise yourself to the skies, if no one else will!Advertising
“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.” – Julia Child, My Life in France.
Featured photo credit: I can cook! Watch me!/Phu Son via flickr.com
Last Updated on May 21, 2019
How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship
For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.
If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:
You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.
You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.
In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.
You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.
People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.
You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.
You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.
The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.
You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.
Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.
If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.
Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:
- Understand your own communication style
- Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
- Communicate with precision and care
- Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger
1. Understand Your Communication Style
To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.
In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.
Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.
2. Learn Others Communication Styles
Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.
If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:
“How do you prefer to receive information?”
This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.
To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.
3. Exercise Precision and Care
A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.
On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.
Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.
I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.
I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.
In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.
The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.
Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.
4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger
Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.
In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,
“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”
Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.
Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.
It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.
It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.
It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.
Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.
Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.
The Bottom Line
When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.
I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.
More Articles About Effective Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com
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