I was caught completely off guard. I was sitting in the backyard, going through my email and making action lists when my partner came back and let me know that I had disrespected him and his work and it was not okay. What? Woah, okay. I stopped what I was doing. I put down my iPad and I got present. I listened to what he said as best I could, and what I heard was that I had hurt him. Tears came to my eyes.
And then I realized that I had no idea that I had even hurt him until he came and said something to me. I had been completely unaware and evidently thoughtless in our previous interaction. He had been sitting with his upset the entire time I was checking my inbox. (How long does that even take? Way too long, I’m sure.)
So after he said what he said, he told me he loved me and walked away. I waited. I wanted to apologize, but I wanted to be clear about what I was apologizing for.
I think he is brilliant. I admire him and his work and I know his mind works in ways that are completely different than mine. So when I was looking at the design he was working on, I just didn’t see it. And if I understood him correctly while he was explaining it to me (not always the case) I did not think his design was a good one. And that’s what I said.
For me, I was hurting. I was pretty darn pooped from running the first Full Moon Whole Body weekend, even as a dress rehearsal, and was coincidentally suffering from getting my moon just the day before. I was tired and I was lazy.
There was nothing wrong with my thoughts or ideas. In fact, he liked my idea and is going to pitch it to his customer. I was not being responsible for my communication though. He mentioned it as that thing that happens when you get comfortable with another person. Yes, in a normal world, that’s what happens and I’m saying it’s just lazy.
It reminded me of reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. My arrogance allowed me to believe that since I was well liked, I had nothing to learn about winning friends. I do however, know that I have a lot to learn about the art of influencing people!
I remember the initial conversation with the landlord for my business in NYC… I walked in and sat down, exchanged no pleasantries (I mean this man wasn’t my friend, we were there to discuss business and I figured he would appreciate my efficiency. Time is money, right?) and I went straight for the ask. The man essentially slapped my wrist, sent me on my way and told me to try again when I figured it out. It was a spectacular fail.
And I’ve been noticing the gaps between my intended communication and the actual delivered communication, and the impact it has. It’s a bit embarrassing really. A coach who bludgeons people with her words? I mean, sometimes that’s what it takes, but if people’s feelings can be spared and everyone leave an interaction feeling good about it, then that’s better, right?
I was being lazy in communication and in my relationship. I took him for granted and was inconsiderate of his feelings. I know better and yet I can and will, still rationalize that I shouldn’t have to coddle people to get them to do their jobs (or be influenced by me, as the book states) I chalk it up to ways of being that have worked for me in the past. It is not out of line as a TKD master, or as a NYer. Sometimes, it is a very good way to get things done. Do we really need to have a morale building exercise before we do something as simple as setting a table? I really hope not. I hope people have not become so soft or thin skinned. My directness is intended as a compliment to your ability to hear things that may be unpleasant. You don’t need me to sugar coat everything, do you? On the other hand, it’s kinda like lube. You may not really need it, but it does make things go much more smoothly. But I digress…
I’m fortunate to have a partner to remind me of what I am committed to, both in my life and in our relationship. I’m grateful that we have open channels of communication. I’m sharing this with you because I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are all on this journey together. Learning and growing.
So, what’s your biggest communication challenge in relationships? What are you most proud of? Share with us in the comments below.