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How to Keep Family Relationships Intact with Geni

How to Keep Family Relationships Intact with Geni
Geni Family Tree view

    There was a time when it was easy to keep up with your family – they lived down the road, on the block or nearby in the city.

    That time passed decades ago, with technological advances in transport and communication, and now families can be strewn across the country, or even the world.

    But those same advances in technology and communication that keep families apart can also relieve the relationship deterioration that geographical separation can cause. One of those advances is the genealogy web application Geni.

    My father and I had a discussion about our family history and recently decided to collaborate online using this application. I didn’t realize it was anything more than a genealogy service when we signed up.

    Geni is a family tree app that allows you to record data about your living relatives and your ancestors going back generations, but also part social network that can keep family members in touch and appraised of each others’ news.

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    Profiles

    Geni Profile view

      Profiles form most of Geni’s social network capabilities. Much like other networks such as Facebook, you can find typical profile data about the person you’re looking at, though the data tends to be more accurate and personal. Here you can see an individual’s birthdate, location, place of birth, immediate family and email address, as well as statistics such as relatives, in-laws, ancestors and descendants.

      The sidebar also contains historical data, such as an individual’s work and education history, and there’s a section for adding personal trivia—want to let everyone know what your favorite movies, hobbies and cuisines are? No? Well, there’s a place to specify this anyway.

      There’s also a thumbnail array showing the profiles of your immediate family, with tabs for ancestors or descendants—useful for immediately determining which part of the family the person is in, in case they are too distant for you to remember (either that or you’re just a bad relative!).

      Of course, like every social network, there’s the guestbook, which is just like Facebook’s wall.

      Family News

      genifamilynewsview.jpg

        When you log-in to Geni the first thing you’ll see is the Family News page. Here, you’ll be able to see both news posted by family members and recent changes or additions to the tree, as well as individual profile modifications or image uploads. It’s the hub of recent activity both in your tree and your family’s lives, if they update diligently.

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        You can select who you receive news from, so if your Geni tree has grown as large as mine, you won’t need to know about the latest tea party your wife’s great-aunt’s-stepchild’s-sister-in-law is holding.

        This page is a lifesaver, coupled with the next feature which has done my poor memory a whole lot of service.

        Event Reminders

        I didn’t know when my brother-in-law’s birthday was or which day my uncle and aunt celebrate their anniversary until I started using Geni. Now, I can look like I actually do care. That’s not how it sounds; I usually do, but I forget these things like any good male does. Geni reminds me of the things I should have remembered on my own so I can send off an email or make a phone call to the person in question.

        I’m not sure yet whether Geni sends reminders for death anniversaries. For the sake of good taste, I hope not.

        Calendar

        genicalendarview.jpg

          The calendar allows you to peruse all the events for the next year. If you’re either incredibly slack or have a really unhealthy relationship with productivity hacks, you can head to your email program and schedule messages to go out for each event, but you better not mess up the scheduling!

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          This calendar not only tells you when wedding anniversaries occur, but also which substance or valuable metal represents that anniversary. For instance, later this year I’m having a cotton anniversary. Nobody told me about this before.

          The calendar has a checkbox for displaying the events of the deceased. Ever wanted to head down to the cemetery and wish your great-grandparents a happy 74th anniversary? How about singing happy birthday to Uncle Ted who met his fate at the aquarium that couldn’t afford to put a lid on the shark tank? This feature is a little creepy to me, but I can see how it might be of interest to some.

          Inbox

          I know there’s email, but when you check it each morning, I might send off an email to see how Relative X is going is probably not one of your first thoughts. This feature is useful simply because while you’re inside the Geni application, your focus is on family members and you’re more likely to send that message off.

          The recipient of your message will be notified by email so if they haven’t logged in for a year, they’ll still know about it. Whether they read it or not is another story, but at least you can say you tried at the next reunion.

          From a purely technical point of view, this kind of feature is a bit redundant, considering the email address of each member is on their profile page. But given the common condition known as email blindness and the context of this app, it’s bound to help you keep family relationships intact at least a little bit more.

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          Privacy

          Both the family tree and the social network are kept private amongst members of the family, though there is an option to make the family tree and some social network information public.

          For me, this defeats the purpose of using the application and offers some privacy concerns. For instance, can you opt-out of the public tree? And if individuals can opt-out, doesn’t this make the public family tree incredibly inaccurate for those doing casual online research? I’m sure there will be interested individuals, and the option will be there for them.

          Geni offers features I like and some that I don’t like so much or find particularly relevant, given the purposes I use this service for. But no matter what you’re looking for in the world of collaborative genealogy or family relationship maintenance, Geni can help.

          If your relatives live up the road, here’s a tip: face-to-face communication works a lot better.

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          Joel Falconer

          Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

          How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

          Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

          For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

          But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

          It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

          The Importance of Saying No

          When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

          In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

          Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

          Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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          Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

          “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

          When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

          How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

          It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

          From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

          We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

          And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

          The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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          How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

          Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

          The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

          1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

          Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

          2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

          Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

          3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

          When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

          6 Ways to Start Saying No

          Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

          1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

          One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

          Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

          2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

          Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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          Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

          3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

          Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

          Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

          4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

          Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

          Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

          5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

          When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

          Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

          A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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          6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

          If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

          Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

          Final Thoughts

          Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

          Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

          Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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          Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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