Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Communication

Last night I had a meeting with several other women and we spent some time talking together about communication. It was such a good discussion and one that I needed to be a part of! In all things communication play such a vital role….if I can’t communicate well with others my relationships suffer.

I have not always been the best communicator. I can think something through, even blog about an idea, but often when it comes to communicating with someone else about what I am thinking or feeling…I end up communicating poorly. In the “heat” of a moment I often speak before I think, saying something that I regret and then have a hard time admitting later that I was wrong!

And I find that who I communicate with is something that I need to take into consideration before hand as well! Gabriel is often a good verbal indicator to help me see if I am portraying the message I want to. When he says “mom why do you have that mad face”, or “mom how come you are talking to me in a mad voice”….I know that something isn’t in check!

I can communicate a very strong message if I want to just with my tone of voice or my body language/facial expressions. But how many of us walk around with a mirror in front of us all the time to check our reflection? That is why someone like Gabriel is so good for me…he calls it like it is and I often have to change my approach if I really do not want to communicate anger.

I find that with Dominic I can communicate either respect or disrespect just by the way that I give him attention to something he is talking about. Even if it isn’t something that I want to discuss – I need to be willing to stop talking and listen every once and while!! But I can express my “distaste” in both verbal and nonverbal ways and it shows my disrespect. I don’t want to be openly disrespectful towards my husband so again that is something that I need to be very aware of!

One line I read about communicating really struck a chord with me. “Any message can be conveyed with courtesy, even one of outrage.” WOW! How do we do that? I know that I don’t do this well at all!! If I am feeling outraged it shows EVERYWHERE..on my face, in my voice. Let me give you an example.

I recently went to talk to someone in my HR department about my upcoming maternity leave. ( I am a planner and I wanted to attack this early) She hasn’t been with the company long – less than a year – and I just went through this whole process 18 months ago…so I kind of know “the drill”. I wasn’t sure where her level of expertise with our company would be…

I scheduled a meeting, explained in advance why I was coming and went expecting to get some paperwork and be on my way. What I got instead was a completely different experience. From my perspective I was treated with complete disrespect. It was evident in the tone of voice that was used with me, the questions that were asked of me and the guilt I felt was being laid on me. The conversation lasted 6 minutes.

In six minutes I was so outraged at the way I felt I was being treated that I stood up, said that I would no longer continue a conversation in which I was being treated this way and would not be made to feel guilty about needing maternity leave. I ended the conversation by saying that I guess I would have to talk to my manager and have him and her manager figure it out instead….and I walked out.

Was I conveying a message of courtesy in my outrage? NO!! Although I know that in situations like these I don’t need to sit and listen to what I perceive as disrespectful and nasty treatment….and it was probably good that I got up and left before it deteriorated even further….I also didn’t have to cross the line at the end and “threaten” her with involving our managers. At that point I was very upset and I wanted her to know it.

Being courteous in situations of outrage is something that I will have to continue to work on. It doesn’t happen very often….but it seems inevitable to avoid conflict with others and I need to be thinking of how I want to react when it happens.

Is my life a reflection of who God is in me? Am I offering grace to someone that doesn’t “deserve” it? Do I deserve it?? Of course not….but it was given to me freely, so why would I withhold it from someone else?

So as you can see this is an area where I will continue to focus on and hopefully will continue to grow from as well. But I love that God uses a small group meeting to bring up conversation and contemplation about another area in my life that could use a little work!

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