“The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl. The warning of a wise person is valuable to someone who will listen. It is worth as much as gold earrings or fine gold jewelry. A trustworthy messenger refreshes those who send him. He is like the coolness of snow in the summertime.” Proverbs 25:11-13 (International Children’s Bible)
How important is it that we learn to communicate with consideration for the other person? Very! My posts usually deal with spirituality, but this one is probably as much a matter of practicality.
Communication tip of the day, especially in this technological world of email, voicemail, and texting!
When you need to get an important point or message across to someone with whom you’re not making eye contact, just come right out and say the thing without, as my Granny would describe it, “hem-hawing around;” but use some common sense and put yourself on the other side of the conversation maybe even before you start. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking if someone else sent/left me this same message?” Are you open with people from the very beginning, or do you make them labor to get to the bottom of why you contacted them in the first place? We don’t usually talk about it, but the truth is, most of us hate to deal with people who do us this way. Don’t be that person!
It’ll drive the people in your life crazy if you keep them in suspense, and if every message is open-ended and sounds like potential gloom and doom. Those abrupt “we need to talk” texts, or messages where your voice always sounds like “a dying calf in a hailstorm,” followed by crickets until they respond to get the rest of the story, already sound as if you’re gonna drop an unpleasant bomb on the recipients. It may send folks who have anxiety or depression issues into a tailspin. They will likely have to build up the nerve to respond because they are expecting the absolute worst! And if every single time you message people, it’s stamped “urgent,” they may come to dread hearing from you at all (or at the very least, stop taking you seriously).
The sky isn’t always falling, for heaven’s sake. Don’t make every communication sound dire and hopeless in the subject line.
Do you know how your own imagination runs away with you when you don’t have all the facts? Well, other people feel that same way! No one likes to feel as if he/she is about to be chewed out, or about to get lured into a drama crossfire; and no one wants to sit and stew and worry and wonder what’s wrong this time. To use that kind of manipulation to try and coerce people to respond faster may backfire, and you can be certain they won’t be eager to talk to you if and when they do finally respond.
Even if it’s very important, even if it is serious, even if it’s something you know others aren’t going to want to deal with, transparency is always the best route to take. We get enough misleading headlines and emotionally-jarring clickbait in the media…let’s not be sources of it! Keep it relatively short and sweet, but lay the information out in advance so that when people get back to you, they’re emotionally and maybe even situationally prepared. Sometimes the information you seek, or the favor you’re about to ask, or the emotional support you need is best gotten when folks don’t feel pressured, guilted, or put on the spot.
Relationships are a lot less complicated when we can communicate with consideration at least most of the time. Make sure that most of your dealings with those around you are positive and encouraging so that when the subject occasionally isn’t a pleasant one, they aren’t already trying to squirm away from you!
One final thought. If you’re the recipient of a message and the other person knows the message has been seen or heard (as most social media does show when something’s been opened or read), acknowledge it. A simple, “I don’t have an answer for you just now, but I want to acknowledge that I’ve received your message, I’m aware of the situation, and I will get back to you later (maybe even estimate a time) when I can help you.” And if the answer is a “no,” say no! Don’t just string people along or leave them hanging if an issue is time-sensitive! Silence is often perceived by the other person as, “I don’t place a value on you or your time.”
Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Be someone who refreshes instead of exhausts!