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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Part 2: Choosing the Right Time to Talk (Talking When There Isn't a Problem)

When we were engaged, our priest didn't write down our wedding in the church calendar.  I had started making arrangements for flowers, photographers and reception sites.  I had called the church to find out who else was getting marred that day to share the cost of flowers on the altar and the secretary thought I was another bride.  I was incensed!  I wanted to fire the priest!  
My father, with great wisdom said, “Don’t do anything now, you’ll be perceived as impetuous and emotionally irrational.  Wait and speak with him directly at your meeting next month and ask for someone new.”  
He was right!  In the meantime, I had the church properly scheduled and when it came time for the meeting, I came across much more forthright than extreme. 

My father’s life experience and proffered advice speaks to two issues: choosing the right time to talk and speaking directly with someone.  We will talk about "speaking directly" later in the series.  As said in Part One, expressing each emotion you have the moment you have it is less than ideal.  Taking time to assess your dilemma is a gift you must choose to take.  The right time to talk depends on several factors: who you’re connecting with, how volatile the situation, how much delay you’re considering, if time is really all that’s needed for resolution, and how you’ll be able to assess when your subject is in an optimal place to hear your message. 

For instance, when your husband comes home from work is probably not an ideal time to chat about the ever-growing honey-do list, how much couple-time you've been able to carve out, that he never scoops the dog doo, or that his socks never hit the hamper (but land right beside it).  When is the best time to connect with your man?  Think about it.  When is he in a good place mentally?  During or after dinner?  Laying in bed before you both drift off?  After the kids go to sleep?  Do you talk better about details on the phone?  

As a general rule, men connect best side-by-side engrossed in activity:  take a walk with him (side by side), watch SportsCenter with him (on the couch, side by side), shoot baskets with him, watch him tackle a task.  Find his center of “respect,” meet him there and find his sweet spot so you can make the most of your conversation.  And remember, this is a conversation – not a monologue.  There’s give and take.  You must listen well as much as you speak to make sure you've understood one another.  But, we’ll tackle listening another day.

Neighbors, other parents, and co-workers are trickier.  You may or may not know them well enough to find the sweet spot for connection.  Being forthright works best here.  “I’d like to chat with you about the parking situation at the bus stop.  What might work best for your schedule this week?”  Be specific about your topic and make certain your wording doesn't sound accusatory but curious - this gives them time to let the idea roll around in their head.  Pose a time-frame instead of “what’s good for you?” to garner better results for a completed conversation.  Lastly, and most importantly: 
Assume the absolute best intentions of others until proven otherwise - this will go a long way in before during and after your conversation.  
If you've heard something inflammatory, assume it’s been taken out of context or misunderstood in some way.  Next up in the series: HOW TO CONNECT TO MAKE SURE YOUR MESSAGE IS RECEIVED.

Series Highlights:
  • Press Pause
  • How to Connect So Your Message is Received
  • Listening Well Helps your Get Your Message Across
  • Hiding Behind Your Computer
  • Doormat or Helpmate?
  • Response, Wrapped in Love, Equals Restoration

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