How well do you communicate with your friends and family? Between phone calls, emails, and texts; it would seem that we talk to each other better than ever. Yet we don’t.
Regardless of what method you use to communicate, it’s easy to “toss” a ball to someone and expect them to know exactly what we’re seeking. This is not a fair expectation.
Last month I mentioned a quote that I think applies to how well we talk to each other. It comes from Nelson Mandela…
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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”Jul 18, 2013
If you have read some of my past blogs on setting boundaries, you know that I learned how to say NO to people when NO was the correct response. Actually, NO is a complete sentence. If you do not give a hundred reasons why you say “yes” – then you do not need reasons for when you say “no.” This was really hard for me in the beginning. Therefore these days when saying “no” – I may also add something like “Thank you for thinking of me. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for me.” This frees both of us from hinting at the maybe; and then regretting the choice.
Too often we play “open ball” with each other because this is something we’ve learned to do. For instance, I text you and say “Hey, we need to get together.” I may think I started something by throwing the ball in your court. Yet if you don’t get back to me right away, I become imprisoned in my mind as to why I’m not hearing from you. Did you get the message? Did you read it and forget? Are you waiting for me to set a time and place? Are you thinking OK – yet really don’t want to?
Do you see what’s happening? Not hearing from you has me creating scenarios that probably don’t exist. Being specific is liberating. It starts with saying precisely what you want to do. “Hey, let’s get together. How does next week look and what’s the best day for you?”
Recently I had a difficult conversation with a friend. We have been in and out of each other’s lives over the years and getting together tended to be initiated by me. (Do you have anyone in your life like this? They always seem happy to get together, yet the ball is always in your court to get things started?) Sometimes we want more for our friends than they want for themselves. I think this was one of those times. So I over a meal last fall, I explained to her how I felt it was always up to me to maintain our relationship – and that I couldn’t keep doing it. I never said anything about what she did or didn’t do. All I could do was speak for myself and throw the ball to her court by telling her exactly what I needed.
Over the next few months, we had a couple of events that we participated in together. I tend to take the lead in securing commitments and as usual, I initiated contact for these occasions. She responded, but that’s about all. Again, after one of those events, I left off with telling her I was here for her if she needed me.
By having the conversation and letting her know specifically how I feel, I have backed off and don’t let myself be burdened with wondering what is – or isn’t going on between us. Because we share so much history, I would like more togetherness, but the ball is in her court. It’s her decision to step up, or not.
This isn’t easy. In fact, I was really uncomfortable. There are times in all our lives when life is uncomfortable…even painful. It’s why I chose Agape…which is divine love…for my word this year. It helps me understand that where there is love, there will be pain. Pain is a teacher and it’s OK to hurt – as long as you learn something from it.
I’ll leave off with a note about texting. Texting consists of messages. It is not a substitute for conversation. We tend to forget the value of conversation, especially face-to-face. Don’t underestimate the value of hearing a voice and/or seeing a face. After all, the majority of how we communicate is non verbal. It could make the difference in the number and quality of all your relationships.
Having said this, I still encourage you to contact me HERE, or phone or text 480-684-2866. And when you do, think about what exactly you are seeking.
P.S. The friend I mentioned above did message me to schedule a call. She called me and we talked for over an hour!