Remember that Thanksgiving dinner I wasn’t sure about attending? I went. I graced the gathering with my wonderful cranberry relish, and my sparkling personality.
I came away feeling like a failure. Why? I unconsciously stepped into my childhood role of clown. I was called a rebel as a youngster, and there are still few topics that are off-limits to me.
Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something. Plato
I got home aware that some people felt poked just a bit. What’s the big deal, we’re family, right? Why is everyone so darn sensitive?
So What’s Next?
I thanked the hostess. And I put my foot in my mouth at least once. No excuses. To say ‘I’m sorry’ is the thing to do. I ignored at least one instance of someone suggesting that triggers are everywhere…I just kept talking, way too loud.
I need a plan for the next similar situation. A plan to learn and practice in everyday conversation. Below is a simple list of seven things to do to make sure my communication is kind, effective, and enjoyable. Because feeling this way sucks.
7 Lucky Communication Tips
- Listen. Instead of leading off by volunteering information about myself, ask a question–then stay to listen to the response. Don’t plan what to say while they are talking, or interrupt. Just lean in and hear. And just so you know, this is a major challenge for me.
- Notice. See whoever I am talking with; be conscious of body-language–be prepared to turn a topic aside. Not everyone will want to talk about the things that are dear to me. A desire to have certain conversations never trumps another’s comfort.
- Believe. If someone makes the effort to tell me something with regard to themselves, give them credit for knowing what they are talking about. It is useless to argue; they are speaking from their unique experience.
- Express. Restate something to make sure I understand. Also, affirm my appreciation for their perspective. Or express gratitude for their trust.
- Question. This is not about interrogation! Careful communication means making certain I know what my partner meant. It is smart to ask. Without all the facts and nuance, be sure that I avoid labelling.
- Admit. I don’t have to know everything. No-one expects me to never make a mistake. It is okay to say, “I don’t know,” or “I’m sorry.”
- Be Kind. There is nothing to lose by letting another have the spotlight. Indeed, there is much to be gained with the simple ability to let someone else shine!
I didn’t observe these rules at dinner with my family on Thanksgiving. My desire to be in the spotlight, to be right, to be clever, to be heard, over-rode my good intention of kindness, patience and gentleness. Mostly because I didn’t have and practice a plan.
I’ll keep trying, as long as my family keeps inviting me. I still like to make people laugh, though. The tips are only going to be lucky if they are used.
[contact-form-7 id=”175″ title=”Join Our Email List”]