Today's post title is inspired by the fabulous song that is likely going through your head right now "I still belong, don't get me wrong, you can speak your mind but not on my time...you can live your life, but this is my life..."etc...
The topic however is inspired by a dear friend who recently said to me "why is it so hard for people to be real and have a conversation about things they disagree with?"
I've been thinking about that queestion and the conversation that it inspired - what she was really talking about is feedback. Why is it so difficult to tell someone that you'd like them to do something differently? We beat around the bush, and sometimes never say what's on our mind. Isn't this really the rooot cause of relationship problems? The cause of dating mis-haps, family arguements, and the underlying issue that often results in anger and fighting?
Before you answer, let me toss out some scenarios:
1) You're dating someone who chews with their mouth open and leaves their napkin on the table instead of placing it on their lap.
**there's a few ways to go with this:
Option A - it's early in the relationship so you bow out because it's easier than addressing the problem
Option B - you love the person anyway but gripe to your friends about what a neandrothol the person is and when you're cross about any other issue, that one drives you mad
Option C - you sit down with the person and say "I feel uncomfortable with some of your table manners and wanted to talk about it with you. Did you knw ________ and it makes me feel ______, what do you think a solution might be?"
Most people will opt for option A or B instead of C. It might be that the person has trouble breathing, they didn't know they were doing it, or they simply didn't know any better. Regardless of where the relationship goes, you would be giving them a gift if you gave the feedback....but we usually choose note to.
2) Every morning you hop out of bed and on your way to the bathroom you step on a wet bath mat. Your spouse has done it again and your socks are wet. Jolted awake again...because they refuse to dry off IN the shower and they use the bath mat as an ad hoc towel - letting their hair and body drip onto it rendering it completely soaky and gross.
**there's a few ways to go with this:
Option A - You could send the bath mat to the local thrift shop and hope they don't buy another one.
Option B - You could start doing the same thing, and see how they like it.
Option C - You could gripe to your friends about how inconsiderate he/she is and how bad off you are and you wish someone would have warned you about what a slob you had married.
Option D - You could talk to your spouse and let them know how their behavior feels to you and how much better your mornings would be if they could adjust their behavior. You could even make it fun and offer to give them a demonstration..."the next time you finish showering, just holler and I'll come show you how it's done" wink wik ;-)
Again...most of us will opt for A,B, or C instead of D. (trust me....I'm the girl who completely saturates the rug EVERY time...and only one person has had the kindness and generosity to tell me about it. My ex-husband probably told all his friends what a pain I was, my mother brought it up in every arguement....and I told my husband about it on our first date..."Mark, I want you to know that I have an awful habit that I simply refuse to change - so here it is and if it's going to bother you, we probably shouldn't go on a second date...." He laughed...relieved that I didn't tell him about a drug addiction or something 'serious' in his book.
These are just two examples, and please comment to share your own...but leave with this thought:
Telling someone that they could do something better is a gift - as long as it is well intended. We need to do our friends, family, and loved ones a favor by giving them the gift of honest and open feedback and communication. We owe it to them, we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our relationships.
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and honest well-meaning feedback.