Because of our concert on Sunday (it was GREAT!!!! Maybe even worth six exclamation points!!!!!!), my whole week feels off by one day. I almost didn’t realize that it was Tuesday! Thankfully, I did, and here is the latest TT post:
I talk a lot when I’m nervous. It’s almost involuntary. While I am able to be quiet, and don’t feel a compulsion to fill every silent space, in certain situations I tend to speak first and think later.
Once, while having a conversation with someone who is quiet by nature, I did just that. She was telling me that she has never been “good with words.”
“Yeah, me neither,” I shared.
“I find that hard to believe,” was her response.
Ironically, that exchange was a good example of what I meant. Yes, I’m able to express myself fairly well most of the time, whether it’s through writing or speaking (I prefer writing, as you can edit your thoughts before publishing them – a major perk). I socialize easily and enjoy conversation. But sometimes I just don’t know what to say and then blurt out a sentence which doesn’t quite fit in the context. What I should have said was,
“You know, I also have my moments where I just don’t say the right thing, or don’t know what to say at all.”
But I didn’t. I choked. I didn’t even have anything to say in response. to her response Nothing. Nada. My brain just doesn’t process information that quickly sometimes. I’m not sure what she thought about my comment, which, most likely seemed disingenuous, which was totally not what I was going for!
Just today I saw someone I haven’t seen for a while, and she mentioned that we hadn’t, well, seen each other for a while.
“I really don’t get out much,” I said.
Right, except for the major concert I was just in, all the rehearsals that it took to prepare for the concert, the classes I sometimes make it to, playdates, grocery shopping, the Children’s Museum … oops. I really do get out a lot. What I should have said was.
“Yeah, I guess our schedules don’t sync up too much, huh?”
Or, even better.
“Yep, so how have you been?”
These small gaffes in communication are relatively innocuous, but when added up, they can possibly create confusion at best, or ill feelings, in extreme examples. Since communication in a relationship is important, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that whatever I’m saying is really what I want to convey, and to try and make sure that my message is coming across. Even though I may completely mean what I’m saying, and think it’s the clearest thing in the world, it could be perceived in a way which I wouldn’t have even thought of.
Also, perhaps even more importantly, in a marriage, it’s important to be sensitive with those comments. I’m reminded of the story of how when the angel came to tell Sarah (the matriarch) that she was going to become pregnant (at her advanced age), she responded by laughing incredulously, and mentioning that both her and her husband were past the age of having children. When Hashem related this incident to Avraham, her husband, He left out the part where Sarah called Avraham “old.”
Communication and emotional openness are important, but there’s a way to say something, and then there’s a way to say something. So, if there’s a nicer way to say what’s needed, it’s probably better to do so.
To take it one step further, in addition to thinking about how to say something, also think about whether or not it should be said. When I was getting advice from one of my rebbetzins about how to deal with trying situations, one of the pointers she gave me was to ask myself what to say, and what not to say.
That was a mind-blowing concept. You mean, sometimes I shouldn’t say something? Even if I really, really, really, reaaaalllllly want to? She taught me that in some situations, there may be nothing gained from talking. That’s a hard one for me, but in the events that I’ve taken that advice, I’ve been glad that I did.
What are some challenges you face in communication? What are some tips you’ve acquired over the years?
- Torah Tuesdays: The more you give, the more you have (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)
- Torah Tuesdays – No pain, no gain (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)
- Torah Tuesdays: Making a Mommy (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)