What easy words to write, what challenging words to say.
Today I make a confession. I am not perfect at communication. What? Jenn writes about communication but she is not perfect? This is so wrong.
Well actually I believe it is so right.
My genuine mistakes and blunders along the path of life provide great learning experiences. I also get the wonderful pleasure of teaching from these learnings.
So why write this today?
Well I made a few mistakes. Well actually in hindsight some really big ones and some slight oversights. I am sure many of you have these same situations lingering in the locked down part of your consciousness.
In this post I just share today's mistakes and learning.
Hello - are you there?
I had a friend contact me today via email. She expressed her concern that I had not responded to her email to contact her. The nature of her email indicated that she perceived I did not wish to stay in touch - because from her end not receiving a response implied that she had done something wrong.
I sent an email, doesn't that mean I'm thinking about you?
Now this is a friend of a friend. We would connect every once in a while and really enjoy a good chat about life from the more intellectual side of things. Not having spoken for awhile, email was easy. Just drop a line and at least we know we are thinking about each other. Isn't this the way it is these days. In fact how many emails go around even saying that - "well at least you know I am thinking about you, you go this email". (Mind you I also still love email for this fact that it can connect you).
I sat there puzzled. Had three months really gone by since we last communicated? Yes. No. I checked my out box and saw an email from before I went away travelling with the last line saying contact me to organise a day to get together. Oh, so I left it with her. So I for a moment felt 'right'.
Communicate like a real person
Then it hit me. This is not about who sent the last email, who was supposed to follow up whom, it was about why we were not communicating like real people. Phone, in person, alive? It was also about misunderstandings being real even when the facts were different.
So I immediately picked up the phone and confessed my absent mindedness. It also turned out that she did not receive my last email. We enjoyed over an hour in a fantastic conversation catching up on our lives of late. We both realised so much had happened in our lives that I actually think it was a miracle we even used email. I learned again how important it is to do the basics.
• Never ever ever ever assume someone received your communication. Just because you sent it doesn't mean they got it.
• We have more than our eyes and fingers. We also have ears and a mouth. So use them! Ring, call, even just leave a message. Let the other person know you are still alive and care.
• Seek first to understand (thanks Steven Covey). You never know why the person has not responded to your call. Unless you call and check in for all you know they are in hospital, sick or had something happen in their life.
• Check in occasionally - make the effort. Why wait for the other person to contact you. It isn't a match for scoring points.
• Do a little bit regularly. Don't wait until it all builds up and the phone call becomes the big catch up or you will never make the call.
• Don't blame, simply accept responsibility. Acknowleding the oversight is important. Apologising is too. Then move on and focus on why you want to stay in touch in the first place.
Now I thought I would apply my learning immediately. So I rang a friend who I have not really chatted with for a few months. We have exchanged a few emails but basically have not really seen each other or spoken. Our lives just took us in different directions.
Well immediately when I got on the phone the first thing she said was what about the message and text I sent you. And I went blank? What message or text. All I remember were emails. I am sure that something was sent and also accept that I accidentally deleted or didn't hear. So I accept full responsibility.
The point is --- it is still not about whether we rang, emailed, texted or knocked on each others front door and found no one home. We were not connecting and were not really doing the hard yards to make it happen. We let life get in the way.
I also have to say that I let the worst excuse rear its ugly head in front of me - I have just been sooooo busy! Not good enough.
A (non new year's) resolution
So now I am resolving (and I am sure I will resolve again and again) to be conscious and make the effort to connect more regularly, keep in touch and say hi in person, by phone with all my senses. How will I do this...
...call people, contact people and check in with them. Be the one who makes the effort.
Oh and of course beg, ask, seek forgiveness from anyone who feels that I may have neglected or been caught up too much in my own little world. I guess I am human after all. Maybe you are too and that's why communicating with effort is worth it.
Let's go there...