Ronnie tells us about her mother, sharing open dialogue before the 2016 election, and why listening makes her happy.
Ronnie Polaneczky is a Metro Columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. A few things to know about Ronnie: she grew up in Philly, is one of 9 children, and took a break during college to sing in a rock band. Try as hard as you may—here’s no record of her musical years on the interwebs (We already checked.)
What makes Ronnie happy? Broadly speaking, connecting with others. She is able to connect with others in her role as a journalist and columnist by listening to others (She has a whole TED Talk on the subject). This started when someone called her out for not being a good listener. News to her as she had been told in the past she was a good listener. Receiving some training from a ministry she joined at her church gave Ronnie a new perspective. She was able to put this into practice after speaking with an angry mother who was angry Ronnie didn’t write her story.
Since then, Ronnie has been interested in learning what makes someone a good listener. She believes there are those who are naturally good at listening—empathic people who don’t feel the need to be right (Relationships are always more important to them). It was then that she decided to let go of being right in order to hear the things that being right kept her from hearing.
This isn’t always easy, Ronnie explains. The age of social media sets us up to judge. You like, love, or comment on posts daily. She goes on to mention that being heard is a fundamental right and democracies, such as ours, are based upon it. What we need to realize is that this need to be right often keeps us from connecting from others, Ronnie says.
Something Ronnie has found helps her is taking a moment to center. She takes twenty minutes in the morning to meditate and become more aware. She feels that if she is working on being present, this will bleed into other areas of her life. This helps her to make choices that are more deliberate. Unlike her mother, this isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally to her.
Ronnie’s mother was raised in an orphanage and seemed to have a completely natural lean towards gratitude. The only time her mother rose her voice was when she was yelling at her children to get along and love each other. She spoke fondly of the nuns that raised her and didn’t feel her family needed anything else but each other and their health. This blissful air towards gratitude helped Ronnie adopt it into her own life. Like all of us, she has moments of being pissy among other things but tries to remember to be always be grateful.
How has listening changed Ronnie’s life? She’s doesn’t try to change people or their feelings anymore. She has applied this to her relationship with her father and recently in speaking with supporters of our current administration. Although Ronnie is truly worried of what will come from our current leaders, she sat down with people from both sides prior to the election for open dialogue. There were those who came guns blazing, ready to defend their candidate. What ended up happening was a conversation between 19 people of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientation and political affiliation speaking about the things that we have in common. Enter love, laughter, and lots of selfies.
What else makes Ronnie happy? Her daughter and memories of her daughter being born, the colorJudging and being right keep us from hearing and knowing other people., and the word joy. You can learn more about Ronnie by reading her columns or listening to her TED Talk. (You can also catch her on Twitter!) Want to get in touch with her? Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links / Read / See / Hear
From Ronnie: Twitter
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
Rocío Castañeda for ongoing support; follow Rocío on instagram.